An estimate released today suggests that recent changes to the student visa system will also cut the number of visas issued to students’ dependants by 100,000 by 2015.
Vice-chancellors argued strongly against a harsh crackdown when the government announced its plans to reduce annual net migration to below 100,000, pointing to the vital income brought in by fee-paying foreign students.
In a statement today, immigration minister Damian Green says: “We are radically reforming the immigration system to tackle abuse and bring net migration down to sustainable levels.
“These changes to the student visa system will create a system where every student coming to the UK attends a legitimate course at a legitimate institution.
“They will work alongside our other reforms of the work route and changes being planned for the settlement and the family routes.”
Million+, the group representing post-92 universities, said the visa restrictions could cost the sector a “huge” sum of money.
Pam Tatlow, its chief executive, said: “The best guess is that the reforms will cost a massive £2.4 billion but the worst case scenario could be as high as £3.6 billion.
“At a time of economic difficulty we should not be introducing reforms that will damage the UK or stop us attracting the talent and skills we need to rebuild our economy.
“Of course we should be doing more to crack down on bogus colleges but the system did not need the government to take a sledge hammer to it. The end result could be a catastrophic loss of education exports.”