international students

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Syrian Students Face Expulsion from UK Courses

Hundreds of Syrian students in the UK face being deported before they complete their studies after many have seen their funding withdrawn due to the crisis in their home country. This has left their university fees unpaid, and the possibility of early expulsion from their courses.

There are 670 Syrian students in the UK, all facing the very real possibility of being thrown off their courses and forced to move back to Syria. There are a number of reasons why the payment of fees for Syrian students has become all but impossible.

The Syrian Ministry of Higher Education was funding a large proportion of the students in the UK, but, with the government in turmoil, has since stopped payment of their fees. What's more, any funding that does reach the UK must be processed by the Syrian Embassy, which is now effectively non-existent after a number of defections and expulsions.

Even those students who were funding themselves are now struggling to pay the fees after the Syrian currency (the lira) collapsed and sanctions on Syrian banks make transferring money almost impossible.

All this adds up tuition fees being left unpaid, which has led to a number of universities threatening to expel their Syrian students. The University of Edinburgh is one notable exception- telling their students that they do not face expulsion given the circumstances.

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Government Attacked as International Student Applications Fall

Amidst predictions that international student applications are falling, the latest attack on the government's stance on student visas has come from Universities UK chief executive Nicola Dandridge.

The latest figures from UCAS show that non-EU undergraduate applications for this year have increased by 0.8% on last year. Whilst this may not sound like a problem, the average increase has been 7% every year since 2007, meaning that international student numbers have been hit. Similarly, figures show that the number of Indian students applying to UK universities has fallen by 9%- a figure expected to rise to 25% by the end of this year.

More worryingly, the Office for National Statistics revealed in November that the number of student visas issued in 2012 had fallen by 26% compared to previous year.

Student visas have been a hot topic in Britain for the past few years, with politicians promising to tighten regulations to ensure fake students cannot cheat the immigration system. Along the way, it has become commonplace for high profile politicians to use phrases like "bogus students" whilst promising an aggressive clamp down on visas.

It is rhetoric like this that Nicola Dandridge believes is putting off prospective international students:

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Bulgarian and Romanian Students Fighting for their Dreams

Yuliya is a Bulgarian first year Journalism student at UWE in Bristol. Here she argues that Romanian and Bulgarian students should be given the same rights as students from other EU countries.

"Despite being part of the last enlargement of the EU in 2007, Bulgarians and Romanians are still facing work restrictions in the UK. Although they will be lifted in 2014, many students face the risk of not finishing their studies. Not only are the living costs a problem, but so are the paid placements that are part of many undergraduate and postgraduate courses around the country.

Imagine you are a student coming from Bulgaria or Romania. You are passionate about the course you have chosen and you are impatient to settle down in the UK. You are ready to study hard and to work part-time in between the lectures, because you are coming from one of the poorest countries in the EU with an average salary of under £300 a month.

In the middle of September you say good-bye to your friends and family; you arrange your new accommodation; start meeting new people... everything seems perfect except the money issue. You know that you have to apply for the so called "yellow card" - the work permit you need as a Bulgarian or Romanian.

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Theresa May Explains Student Visa Changes

On Wednesday (12th December) Theresa May- the British Home Secretary, made a speech about the changes to immigration and the visa system that she and the government have brought in over the last few years. A large part of the speech focussed on international students and the restrictions that have been introduced on student visas. Here we have the important parts regarding foreign students word by word:  

"We have always been clear that we want Britain to attract the brightest and best talent from around the world - the top academics, brightest students, the best businessmen, investors, skilled workers and entrepreneurs who will contribute to our society, our economy and our way of life."

...

"I also want to build on the principle of appealing to exceptionally talented people, so I intend to add a further 1,000 places a year for MBA graduates who want to stay in Britain and start up businesses."

Fighting Abuse

"We changed student visas to make sure that while we still attract the brightest and the best, and we still protect our world-class education establishments, we eradicate abuse from the system."

...

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Boris Johnson Welcomes Indian Students

London Mayor Boris Johnson has continued to welcome Indian students to Britain as part of his tour of the country. All this week he has been in India promoting British universities and strengthening ties with their Indian counterparts, whilst also taking the opportunity to slam the recent changes to international student visas.

India has a population of 1.2 billion people, and half of them are under the age of 25, making it the perfect country to target for growth at British universities. Indeed, during a visit to Amity University, south of Delhi, the Mayor emphasised London as a study option for the university's students:

"As Mayor I will do all I can to promote London as a place that is open for business and open to the brightest talent in the world. International students not only bring bright ideas that cement the reputations of our leading universities, they have huge spending power that boosts the UK economy."

Amity University already has a small campus in London and Mr Johnson encouraged the idea of it expanding. The Chancellor of the university, Atul Chauhan explained:

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