Student visa system being ‘reviewed to death’, government warned

August 2, 2010

The student visa system is to be reviewed following a surge in the number of visas issued.

Damian Green, the immigration minister, said the review would represent a “thorough evaluation” of the system, although precise details of its remit have yet to be set out.

The announcement follows the release of Home Office figures that show the number of visas issued to international students grew by a third, to more than 300,000, last year.

The campaign group MigrationWatch UK seized on the data as evidence of bogus “back-door” immigration through the student visa system.

But Dominic Scott, chief executive of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, said he had seen no such evidence, and questioned the prudence of commissioning another review as the system had already been overhauled earlier this year.

“We believe the system has already been reviewed to death. Every morning we get up and there seem to be new changes to it. This [review] may be addressing a problem that’s already been resolved,” he said.

Figures from the Home Office show that the number of students coming from outside the European Union to study in Britain increased by more than 75,000 in the year to March.

Some 313,011 non-EU university candidates were granted student visas over the period, bringing more than 31,000 dependants to the country with them.

Mr Scott said the increase had been motivated by a favourable exchange rate, among other factors.

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