31 October 2008

Home office issues new rules for foreign students

The British Home Office announced the student tier (tier 4) of the Australian-style points-based system yesterday, 30 October 2008.

Under the new system for UK student visas, all universities and colleges wanting to educate nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) will need a licence to do so.

As of March next year, only those licensed universities and colleges will be able to sponsor overseas non-EEA students to study in the UK.

Further, before studying at a UK licensed educational facility, foreign students will have to supply fingerprints and meet new criteria to be allowed to study in the UK.

The new system involves a 'sponsor management system', which includes a technology system that allows licensed sponsors to inform the UK Border Agency if students do not attend a required amount of classes. 

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said, "International students contribute £2.5bn to the UK economy in tuition fees alone.  The student tier of the points system means Britain can continue to recruit good students from outside Europe.

"Those who come to Britain must play by the rules and benefit the country.  This new route for students will ensure we know exactly who is coming here to study and stamp out bogus colleges which facilitate the lawbreakers."

The Minister of State for Higher Education David Lammy said he is confident the new student tier of the system to go live next autumn will bring positive benefits to the community of international students in the UK, but will also work well to protecting that system from "bogus colleges".

"I welcome the education sector’s involvement in developing this implementation plan, which will help to ensure we have a structure that allows international students to benefit from the excellent educational experience the UK offers, while giving them the opportunity to work in the UK for two years following graduation," Mr Lammy said in a statement.

"However, we will not tolerate the minority of individuals who seek to damage the quality of our education system through bogus colleges.  This is why we have introduced tighter checks to the current Register of Education and Training Providers."

The new system for immigration has been going live in stages throughout the year; tier 1 for highly skilled migrants was the first to go on-line February this year, while tiers 2 and 5 (skilled migrants and temporary non-economic visitors) are due to go live 27 November.  Tier 3 will allow lower-skilled migrants to move to the UK only when an absolute shortage in the UK and European workforce has been proved. 


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

Article by Jessica Bird, UK Visa Bureau.


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