UK MPs seek scrapping of new student visa rules

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 - 18:29

London: British MPs have asked the government
to scrap the new immigration rules that make it mandatory for
students from India and other non-EU countries to have an
intermediate level of English before coming to the UK to study
the language.

The rules, put in place by the previous Labour
government, raised the entry level criteria for international
students keen to study English in Britain.

The rules were mainly drawn up to deter bogus students
who used the student visas to enter the UK and stay on.

In an Early Day Motion, the MPs, led by Stephen Lloyd
(Liberal Democrats), said the rules were "rushed and flawed"
and added that the rules would discourage an estimated 100,000
high fee-paying international students from coming to the UK.

The motion says that the rules threaten an important
sector of the UK economy and are damaging the country`s
standing as a world leader in education.

The University of Cambridge, which is the largest
provider of English language qualifications through its ESOL
examinations, has welcomed the motion.

Michael Milanovic, CEO of University of Cambridge ESOL
Examinations, said: "We hope that this motion will provide the
impetus to re-examine the criteria for student visas so that
they are fair to everyone.

"There needs to be a robust system that doesn`t
discriminate against legitimate students but also prevents
people coming to live and work in the UK by pretending to be
students."

The motion quotes English UK, the professional
organisation of English language education, as estimating that
400 million pounds and 3,400 jobs will be lost from the
teaching sector and 1 billion pounds from the university
sector due to the new rules.

University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations is the world`s
leading language assessment provider. It provides exams in
English language for over 3 million people every year, in more
than 130 countries as well as a range of qualifications for
language teachers.

Around the world, thousands of universities, employers
and government ministries rely on Cambridge ESOL certificates
as proof of English language ability.

A Cambridge ESOL certificate can determine whether the
career is progressed or a university place offered, while the
broader examination results can help determine a nation`s
education and investment policy.

It is a not-for-profit department of the University of
Cambridge and is part of the Cambridge Assessment group,
Europe`s largest assessment agency which provides exams and
tests covering a huge range of subjects and levels; with more
than eight million taken every year.

UK visa for Indian shoppers

With cash-rich Indian tourists
emerging as one of the highest spenders in London`s plush
shopping district of West End, retailers have launched a
campaign to urge the David Cameron government to relax visa
norms for people from India.

Called `The Visa-Ability Campaign`, the move is driven by
predictions that spending by shoppers in Oxford Street, Bond
Street and Regent Street will touch 12 billion pounds in the
next two years, particularly during the 2012 London Olympics.

The high spend is expected to be mainly driven by
international shoppers from India and China, who currently
enjoy favourable exchange rates.

The objective is to encourage them to visit and spend in
the West End instead of shopping in other countries.

The New West End Company, which represents 600 retailers
on the three top-end streets, said the spend on West
End for 2010 alone was set to exceed 6 billion pounds.

The company and Visit Britain- the agency that encourages
international tourism to Britain - have taken the campaign to
Immigration Minister Damian Green, Tourism Minister John
Penrose and Culture and Olympics Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Following a recent survey of West End retailers, 40 per
cent predicted that the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
would boost sales by 10 per cent.

With one million additional international visitors set to
flock into London`s West End during this period, this further
cements the importance of the Visa-ability Campaign,
organisers said.

Jace Tyrrell, Director of Communications at New West End
Company, said: "In the lead up to 2012 with international
visitors reaching an all time high, our main territories for
concern with the current visa restrictions are China, UAE,
Russia, India, South Africa and Thailand."

The main demands of the campaign are: The implementation
of an easier, more user-friendly and cheaper visa application
process to maintain the UK`s competitive position against
other destinations ? this is especially important during the
current economic climate; and a freeze on visa charges and any
plans to extend the number of key tourism source countries
that require visas.

Other demands included introduction of a European
extension visa: a "bolt-on" visa in Visit Britain`s core
overseas markets of China, India, Russia, South Africa,
Thailand and United Arab Emirates so that visitors from these
countries who have already obtained a Schengen visa can apply
for a UK visa at a reduced price; allowing visitors to make
visa applications in local languages; and an investment in
training for immigration staff to provide a speedier and
friendlier welcome for visitors.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 - 18:29

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