student visas

Andy's picture

Changes to Student Visas Damaging & Poorly Communicated

In the first of a new series exploring the radical changes the British higher education system is undergoing, Editor Andy looks at how new student visa restrictions are affecting international students.

Last year Theresa May announced that 260,000 fewer student visas will be given out over the next five years, through harsher restrictions on fake colleges and bogus students. Whilst it is clear that preventing fake students from illegally gaining visas is a positive thing, I believe the problem has been hugely overblown, and the solution poorly managed and badly miscommunicated.

Misuse of Figures

The basic problem here is that headline grabbing statistics have been used to the advantage of the government in order to impress British voters, whilst the very same figures have had the exact opposite impact on prospective international students. The headline figure of 260,000 fewer visas sounds like a high number and makes the government appear to be taking action. However, to prospective students abroad, the figure inevitably makes Britain appear less welcoming.

Foreign Students's picture

Opposition to Visa Cuts Increases

A number of British MPs have criticised the student visa changes that are to be introduced by the government next year, arguing that they will harm the economy.

The government first announced the cuts earlier this year, in a bid to reduce immigration into the UK by up to 230,000 over five years. However, official figures released in June predict that the new restrictions could cost the economy £3.6 billion.

Figures Dismissed

Despite being calculated by her own department, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, has dismissed this figure and instead asked the migration advisory committee for a "better assessment and a better judgment of the true picture".

However, the Home Affairs Committee is outraged by May's refusal to believe the facts, with the chairman Keith Vaz revealing:

"The Home Secretary's dismissal of the impact assessment is very disappointing. The government appears to be not only making policy without adequate immigration statistics, but also ignoring its own evidence. We reiterate the need for an immigration policy which is both evidence-based and does not adversely affect the British economy."

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