Student visa rules tightened by government

Universities and colleges told proportion of visa refusals allowed will halve

July 29, 2014

More universities could lose their licences to sponsor international students after the government announced it would introduce stricter rules on recruiting students from outside the European Union.

Currently, institutions can lose their licence if more than 20 per cent of the students they have offered places to are refused a visa by the border authorities.

But from November, this proportion will be cut to 10 per cent.

When the idea of reducing the threshold was floated in March by the new immigration minister James Brokenshire, it was warned that several universities were already “hovering” at the 10 per cent level.

Don Ingham, a former head of managed migration at the Home Office who now runs Veristat, an immigration consultancy that advises education providers, said at the time: “I would not be surprised to find there were some universities hovering around that [10 per cent] figure…Anything that tightens up an already tight regime would be very harsh and would have a further impact on educational institutions – and within their number there may be some universities who may fall foul of it.”

Edward Acton, vice-chancellor of the University of East Anglia, also warned in March that Mr Brokenshire’s proposals would force a “truly savage reduction” in the recruitment of international students.

Today’s announcement by the government was billed as a wider “crackdown on immigration abuses” including a halving of the period European migrants can claim benefits.

“From November, tougher rules will be imposed on universities and colleges who sponsor international students to study in the UK,” the announcement says. “Currently, educational institutions cannot enjoy highly trusted sponsor status if 20% or more of the individuals they have offered places to are refused visas.”

“But that figure will be cut to 10% in November after a 3-month transitional period for colleges and universities to re-examine their admissions procedures before offering individuals places,” it continues.

In June, Glyndwr University had its licence suspended and the universities of West London and Bedfordshire were prevented from issuing any more acceptances to international students after a Home Office investigation into fraudulent English language tests.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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