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Should Students be Counted in Immigration Figures?

One of the hottest topics on the higher education agenda at the moment, is whether to include international students in the immigration statistics for Britain. Currently they are included, but there is a growing list high profile figures arguing that they shouldn't be.

Watch the BBC report below to get an idea of the arguments for and against. What do you think? Leave your comments below. 

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Give Us Your Foreign Students and Your Entrepreneurs

Under new rules proposed by the British Foreign Office, coming into effect on July 9, up to 5000 students a year could be denied entry to the United Kingdom under student visas.

The move, designed to discourage bogus students from entering the United Kingdom, also means that only the brightest and most accredited people will gain access to the country in order to study.

Some figures have shown that if the new rules were in place during 2011, up to 45% of applicants from Burma and 38% of applicants from Bangladesh may have been rejected.

Under current rules, it is the understanding that even if the UK Border Agency have serious doubts about the credentials of a client, they are unable to refuse them entry into the country. This now means that foreign students who are wanting to enter the United Kingdom to study now have make sure that they are able to prove their willing to study with institutions.

Opposition to the Changes

Critics of the new scheme, including over 70 university chancellors, have however, warned that the crackdown could force foreign students to go elsewhere in the world to study, causing the loss of billions of pounds to the economy of the country.

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Visas and Queue Jumping: International Students Hit the Headlines

International students have been headline news in the British media almost every day this week. The week began with an exposé by The Daily Telegraph newspaper which unveiled that foreign students are being accepted with lower grades than British students at some universities. After the backlash to this there was a plea from a government minister for overseas students to study in Britain, before the UK Border Agency insisted that the recent visa changes will not affect genuine students.

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.

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Oxford University Questions Visa Changes

Oxford University is the latest high profile voice to condemn the changes in visa regulations, whilst welcoming Indian students to continue applying. With changes making it harder to gain a post-study work visa, Oxford Vice-Chancellor Andrew Hamilton wanted to urge potential students form India not to be put off.

The new regulations kicked-in at the start of April, meaning that only a handful of international students will be able stay on and work after their studies in the UK. Since these changes were announced last year, there have been figures from throughout higher education criticising them.

"Confusing and Off-Putting"

Most recently, speaking to the BBC Asian Network, a number of Oxford students, graduates and professors all questioned the motives and effectiveness of the new visa regulations. There are more than 350 Indian students at Oxford University, making them the sixth largest group of overseas students studying there. University heads want to maintain this popularity amongst Indians.

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