Student visitor route not being abused, says government

The Home Office has concluded that the student visitor route into the UK is being used as intended and not as a back door route to work or settlement

June 9, 2013

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, claimed in March that the government was ignoring “growing abuse” by students using this route. 

But a government report, released on 6 June, says that the option, which allows students to undertake a course of study for up to six months, is largely being used to take courses at institutions which are already licensed to sponsor international students.

Student visitors do not need to be sponsored by an institution, but cannot work, do work experience, bring dependents to the UK or switch to another visa immigration category.

The route was introduced in 2007, and in 2011 a record 262,000 student visitors came to the UK, but “the evidence suggests the student visitor route is being used as intended and abuse is minimal,” Student Visitors says.

Of these, 115,000 came from the US, the report notes. There were also at least 10,000 student visitors each from Brazil, Russia, Japan, China and Turkey.

Around two thirds of these students were coming to study English language courses, while exchange programmes were also popular, particularly with those from the US.

For certain countries, such as the US and Brazil, student visitors do not need a visa, but for others, including Russia and China, they need to apply for a visitor visa before coming to the UK.

Of those who did not need visas, 7 per cent reported that they had previously come to the UK as a student visitor.

Less than one per cent of those who successfully applied for a visitor visa had been refused entry to the UK during the previous decade, the report says.

Mark Harper, the immigration minister, said in a statement: “It is right that international students have the opportunity to take up short courses in our world-class colleges and universities, and this research shows how well the system is working.”

Student visitors who did not require a visa intended to stay a median average of seven weeks, and less than one quarter wanted to remain in the UK for more than 12. For those that did require visas, the average length of stay was 29 days.

In 2011 an extended student visitor visa was introduced, allowing up to 11 month stays for English language programmes, although these are not covered by the report.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Reader's comments (1)

I'm glad that the minister has gone on record to say that the system is working. There will be no need for them to tinker with it any further. If we could get them to say the same about all students visas, then we could at least get an assurance that there would be no further tinkering before the election.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Retired academics calculating moves while playing bowls

Lincoln Allison, Eric Thomas and Richard Larschan reflect on the ‘next phase’ of the scholarly life