28 January 2009

UK universities warned to get sponsorship licence to teach foreign students

The British Home Office has officially warned universities, colleges, and schools who want to have overseas students studying at their institutions to sign up for the new system before it is too late.

The new points-based system requires educational institutions to have a sponsor's licence to legally teach foreign students, and so far only more than 800 universities, schools and colleges have signed up. 

Students from overseas can apply for a UK student visa through tier 4 of the new points-based system, provided they have an educational institution to sponsor them to do so.

Educational institutions have until the 2nd February 2009 to apply for a sponsorship licence, so that they may have their licence by the end of March – when tier 4 goes live.

The Home Office hopes the new system would clamp down on those "students" who take advantage of the UK immigration system and overstay illegally, and will ensure colleges comply by the rules of immigration.

As part of their UK visa application, foreign students will have to prove they can support themselves and their families and supply biometric information to the government for security purposes.

Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said the new rules for overseas students would weed out only those that would benefit the UK, and no more.

"Everyone who comes here must play by the rules and that includes foreign students wanting to take advantage of our world-class universities and colleges.  The new student tier of the points system will ensure we will know exactly who is coming here to study and crack down on bogus colleges," he said.

"That is why I am delighted that more than 800 colleges and universities have registered so far.  I now urge other educational institutions to sign up so they are ready when the system goes live at the end of March."


The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visa and immigration services.


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