Opposition to “disastrous” Tier 4 (Student) visa proposals growing

With only a few days left for people to make their views heard on the “disastrous” Tier 4 (Student) Visa proposals many within the education industry are raising their concerns to crescendo level. This week Universities Scotland said that the proposals would “completely undermine our ability to succeed in what is already a highly competitive market”, the Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) went further by calling the proposals “disastrous”, and the Vice Chancellor of East Anglia University said that effects of the changes would “make the highly controversial home tuition fees issue fade from the centre”

The Coalition Government recently signalled its intent to tackle high net immigration figures by tightening Tier 4 of the Points Based System (Student Visas). In a public consultation document the Government included 11 possible changes to the system, including; an end to those international students studying at below degree level, an increase in the current English language requirements and limits on employment rights, particularly for work placements and work between undergraduate and postgraduate study.

At the launch of the consultation document the Immigration Minister, Damian Green, said that “I believe attracting talented students from abroad is vital to the United Kingdom but we must be more selective about who can come here and how long they can stay. People imagine students to be those who come here for a few years to study at university and then go home but that is not always the case. Too many students coming to study at below degree level have been coming here with a view to living and working, rather than studying. We need to stop this abuse.”

Effects of the Tier 4 (Student) Visa Proposals

If all the proposed changes are introduced the effects on the higher education system in the United Kingdom will be significant. At the moment:

  • Around two thirds (182,000) of the 273,000 student visas issued in 2009 were from applicants based outside of the European Union
  • International Students pay far higher University fees, often more than twice as much as students from the United Kingdom and those from countries within the European Union
  • In 2006 – 2007 six percent (6%) of students studying in Scotland were from countries outside of the European Union and the following year 2007 – 2008 the total income from International students to the 20 Scottish Universities was £188 million
  • Many Universities argue that International degree students are recruited from non-degree courses on which they have improved there English language ability. It is estimated that Universities in the UK recruit more than 50% of their International students from such courses
  • The 5,475 extra places awarded at UK Universities in 2010 was made up of one third (1/3) students from within the European Union and two thirds (2/3) those from countries outside of the EU. The number of British students fell during 2010 by just over 400
  • In 2010 Scottish Universities accepted 2,208 non-EU applicants

Speaking on the English language proposals alone the Vice Chancellor of East Anglia University, Edward Action, said that “if the language requirement was raised the catastrophic effects on universities will, for a period, actually make the home tuition fees matter slightly fade from the centre, so grave will it be”.

The President of the Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA), Liz Rawlings, added her voice to the issue this week by saying that “The proposals in this consultation have not been thought through. Taking away the post-study work visa would be disastrous for current international students and would radically reduce the number of students coming to the UK to study in future. International students benefit Scotland and the rest of the UK both economically and culturally. They also significantly contribute to the diversity of Edinburgh University, which should be celebrated, not restricted. EUSA are opposing these proposals in the strongest possible way.”

Ant the Director of Universities Scotland, Alastair Sim, said that “At the same time as university funding is cut across the UK, and universities are told to increase their income from other sources, we face a set of proposals which will completely undermine our ability to succeed in what is already a highly competitive market.”

Economic Impact of Tier 4 Reforms

Recently a cross party group of MPs raised ‘’profound concerns’’ to Theresa May (the Home Secretary) over the economic implications of tough new plans to reform Tier 4 of the Points Based System. The group of MPs which included Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers raised concerns that the reforms will force may English Language colleges to close meaning the loss of thousands of jobs across the country and a significant amount of revenue (it is estimated that overseas students contribute £100m annually to the local economy in Brighton alone).

Tony Milns, who represents English UK, said that “A lot of MPs with language colleges or schools in their constituencies are concerned. They realise the economic and other benefits to their constituents of having foreign students spending money.” And a representative of Universities UK went on to say that “We do not think that international students should be counted as migrants. They are not here for economic reasons, their time in the UK does not count towards any later application for settlement, unlike workers, and they have no recourse to public funds.”

Tier 4 Student Proposal

  • Reduction in the number of people coming to the UK to study below degree level
  • Introduction of a tougher English language requirement
  • Provisions to ensure that students wishing to extend their studies show evidence of academic progression
  • Limits on students’ entitlements to work and their ability to bring in dependants
  • An enhanced accreditation process for education providers, alongside more rigorous inspections.

Commonwealth Contractors

Commonwealth Contractors is a collection of highly skilled professionals from the Commonwealth and beyond. We partner with OISC Registered Immigration Partners capable of professionally representing a Tier 1 Visa Application / Extension and Tier 2 Licensed Consultancy & Associated Trust Partners who may be prepared, where required, to sponsor a doctor on a Tier 2 Visa (formerly UK Work Permit).

To find out more call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0330 390 9021 or Submit your Details and we will get back to you. Please be prepared to send a copy of a recent CV so that we can pass to interested partners.