Theresa May Explains Student Visa Changes

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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."


"Our policies are starting to bite, and they prove the massive scale of abuse in the student visa system. Just by cutting out abuse, we have reduced the number of student visas by 26 per cent - that's almost 74,000 - in the year to September. And what is more, we have cut the overall numbers at the same time as the number of foreign students coming to our universities has increased.

Because we have always been clear that in cutting out the abuse of student visas, we want the best and the brightest minds in the world to come to study in Britain, and we want our world-class universities to thrive.

So today I can announce a further measure to encourage top students to come to Britain and, if they have something to contribute, to stay in Britain.

In future, all PhD students who have completed their studies will be allowed to stay here for longer to find skilled work or set up as an entrepreneur within the rules. From April, all such students will be allowed to stay in Britain for twelve months after they have completed their PhD before having to find a job or start a business.

We want to work with our universities to continue to protect not just the integrity of the immigration system but the reputation of the British education system around the world. We will continue to monitor strictly the adherence of universities as well as colleges to our rules that make sure only legitimate students come here."

Increasing Interviews

"Welcoming legitimate students and identifying and rejecting bogus students is at the heart of our changes to the student visa regime. And I want to announce today a further change in the border agency's operational policies to make sure we get even tougher on bogus student applications.

I can announce that, from today, we will extend radically the border agency's interviewing programme. Starting with the highest-risk countries, and focusing on the route to Britain that is widely abused, student visas, we will increase the number of interviews to considerably more than 100,000, starting next financial year. From there, we will extend the interviewing programme further across all routes to Britain, wherever the evidence takes us. I believe this new approach will help us to root out the abuse of British visas, and improve the integrity of our immigration system.

So, as with our changes to economic immigration, so our changes to student visas strike a balance, and send a message. If you can speak English, and you can get a place on a legitimate course at a genuine university, you can come to study in Britain. There is no cap on the number of students able to come here - and there are no current plans to introduce a cap.

But we are also clear that student visas are not a backdoor route into working in Britain. We are clamping down on that kind of abuse. Colleges have lost their right to sponsor foreign students. Bogus students have been turned away. And, through more and more interviewing, we are getting better at identifying and rejecting people we don't want to come to Britain."


"With student visas, there is no cap on the number of legitimate students able to come here to study legitimate courses at genuine institutions. But we're cutting out abuse and stopping the student visa system being used as an easy route to working in Britain."

You can read a transcription of the speech in its entirety here

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