Student visa curbs spark fury in UK

Visa curbs are likely to adversely affect many Indian students coming to UK.

Last Updated: Feb 28, 2011, 19:46 PM IST

London: As India takes up the issue of
imposing new UK student visa curbs, major stake-holders in
Britain have opposed the measures that are likely to result in
thousands job losses and a cut in the annual contribution of 5
billion pounds to the British economy from the international
student market.

India`s Higher Education secretary Vibha Puri Das is
reported to have met British High Commissioner Richard Stagg
in New Delhi earlier this month to register India`s concerns
over the proposed measures.

The measures piloted by Immigration minister Damian
Green are likely to adversely affect thousands of Indian
students who come to Britain every year for studies at various
levels.

Among the measures proposed is the abolishing of the
post-study workers visa, which allows Indian and other
international students to take up employment in Britain for
two years after their study is over.

Many self-financing Indian use this visa to take up
work and recover some of the cost of their study in British
universities and institutions.

Other measures include a tougher English language
requirement for international students, restrictions on
bringing dependants, level of courses allowed for student
visas and closer monitoring of international students after
they arrive in the UK.

Immigration minister Damian Green has said that it
is inappropriate to allow overseas students access to British
jobs when British workers were themselves struggling to find
jobs in an increasingly difficult public spending situation.

Leaders of British education providers (including
universities) and employer organisations have strongly
criticised the proposed measures that will not only lead to
international talent avoiding Britain, but also cause job
losses and significant loss of revenue from high fee-paying
international students.

Among those in the forefront of opposing the new
curbs on student visas are the Universities UK (the umbrella
body of British universities), think-tanks Institute for
Public Policy Research and CentreForum, and
the Association of MBAs.

According to CentreForum director Chris Nicholson,
"The Government`s current proposals are destructive and
short-sighted. These students provide an immense financial,
cultural and academic contribution to Britain`s universities.

It is economic madness crudely to restrict student
numbers in this haphazard way."

Noting that India and China are two of the UK’s
biggest markets for international students, the Association of
MBAs said in its response to the consultation on the student
visa review: "The UK must do all it can to remain competitive
in the highly skilled business education sector; turning
students away by restricting their access to post-study
employment puts their reputations at stake and threatens
future viability".

Professor Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor of the
University of Sheffield, added: "Britain`s world-class higher
education system is at risk from these ill-judged reforms.
By using the one crude measure of English proficiency
to tackle bogus students, the Government is jeopardising
universities and jobs that rely on them around the country."

The consultation exercise on the new measures was
concluded recently and the government is expected to announce
the new measures shortly.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities
UK, said: "These consultation proposals, if implemented, will
damage our universities, our international reputation and our
economy."

In a study titled `Student Migration in the UK`,
the Institute for Public Policy Research argued that the
proposed reforms to the student visa regime "could cause
substantial harm to the UK`s education sector and economy,
without delivering sustained reductions in total net
migration."

PTI