criteria, limits on work and an end to students staying in the UK
to look for a job are just some of the changes proposed by
Immigration Minister Damian Green today as part of a shake-up of
the student visa system.
Launching a public consultation on the reform of the student
entry route to the UK of the Points Based System - the Home Office
also revealed that 41 percent of students coming through this
route were studying below degree level courses.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said:
"I believe attracting talented students from abroad
is vital to the UK 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 - that is not
always the case. Too many students coming to study at below degree
level have been coming here to live and work, rather than
studying. We need to stop this abuse.
"Today's proposals follow a major review of the
system, and are aimed at a more selective system and, crucially,
reducing the numbers to meet our target of reducing net migration
to sustainable levels."
The consultation will run for eight weeks, seeking views on a
range of measures to reduce the number of students that can come
into the UK. Proposals include:
* reducing the number of people coming to the UK to study at
below degree level;
* introducing a tougher English language
* ensuring students wishing to extend their
studies show evidence of academic progression;
students' entitlements to work and their ability to bring
in dependants; and
* improving the accreditation process for
education providers, alongside more rigorous inspections.
The Government has committed to making changes across the
immigration system to achieve its overall aim of reducing net
migration, in addition to the introduction of an annual limit on
workers from outside the EU. The student route accounts for two
thirds of migrants entering the UK each year which is why it is a
key focus for reform.
Damian Green added:
"This Government wants high calibre students with the
genuine desire to study to come to our country for temporary
periods, and then return home. We want to hear views of our
proposals from a wide range of people so that our reforms meet
The new proposals could see Tier Four -students coming to the UK
under the Points Based System - restricted to those studying
largely degree level courses and to child students, unless the
institution is a Highly Trusted Sponsor. English language
competence could become the key indicator of someone's
eligibility to complete a higher level course and all Tier Four
applicants will have to pass a secure English language test
showing competence at intermediary level B2, a step up from the B1
The drive to ensure students return overseas after their course
finishes will mean students will have to leave the UK and apply
for a new visa to further their studies, and show evidence of
progression to a higher course. It will also see the closure of
the post-study route under Tier One.
In addition, the Government will be looking at ways to improve
the inspection and accreditation of the education sector, to
ensure the courses offered by private institutions of further and
higher education are of the highest quality.
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The full consultation document 'The Student
Immigration System: A Consultation' is available here -
2. The closing date for the consultation is 31 January 2011.
3. The research report 'Overseas students in the
immigration system: types of institution and levels of
study' is available here - http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/reports/pbs-tier-4/
4. Current Tier Four requirements can be found here -http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/studyingintheuk/
5. B2 is upper intermediate level English, a more advance level
of competency than B1 lower intermediate. B2 requires a learner to
be able to converse on a wider range of topics, whereas B1 level
is more focused on understanding public announcements and
instructions. B2 equates to approximately 500-600 hours of study,
compared to B1 which equates to 350-400 hours.
6. The Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) licence was introduced in
April 2010. Only education providers with a proven track record of
student retention and compliance can qualify for a HTS licence.
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