Tier 4: Changes Expected Following Review

Changes to the UK Student Visa system
is expected in the near future.

Tightening of the ‘economic immigration routes’ is but one part of a package of measures being made across the UK immigration system in an effort to achieve the coalition government’s goal of reducing overall net migration.

The Home Office confirmed that an 8-week consultation will be initiated before the end of 2010 focussing on Tier 4 of the points-based system – the UK Student Visa category – which makes up two-thirds of migrants entering the UK annually.

Feedback will be sought on a range of prospective measures, including:

  • For adult students, focusing Tier 4 on higher-level courses and those offered by Highly Trusted sponsors;
  • Introducing tougher entry criteria such as English language competence for students;
  • Ensuring that students wishing to extend their studies show evidence of academic progression;
  • Limiting the student's entitlements to work and to sponsor dependants in the UK; AND
  • Improving the accreditation process for education providers, alongside more rigorous inspections.

Theresa May added: "I want to ensure that students and education providers are of a high quality.

"People imagine students to be those who come here for a few years to study at university and then go home - that is not always the case. We estimate that nearly half of all students coming here from abroad are coming to study a course below degree level where levels of compliance with immigration requirements are not high enough.

"While we will protect our world-class universities, we want suitably qualified students with the genuine desire to study to come to our country. We must also have a more robust system to ensure that students leave the country at the end of their legitimate stay."

- Marek Starke is a member of the UK Visa Bureau.