A university pathway provider has blamed the government’s lower visa refusal threshold for a sharp slump in recruitment.
Navitas said that enrolment at the centres it runs with 10 UK higher education institutions was down by 13 per cent during the second semester of 2015, compared with the previous reporting period.
Rod Jones, the Australian company’s group chief executive, said that tougher government rules, which mean that institutions are at risk of losing their visa sponsorship licences if more than 10 per cent of their applications are refused, had been a key factor. Until November, the threshold was 20 per cent.
“This has resulted in the implementation of risk management strategies to ensure Navitas colleges remain well below the threshold and has further contributed to the reduction in the enrolment growth rate,” Mr Jones said. “UK government commentary since winning re-election in May does not indicate any immediate change to this policy and therefore we believe that enrolment growth in the UK will be challenging for some time.”
Navitas, which offers pathway courses to prepare students for study at a UK university, said that it would continue to lobby for “more favourable policy settings to be introduced over time”.
By contrast, its enrolment in the US and Canada grew by 18 and 17 per cent respectively over the same period.
The statement did not say how many students Navitas now has in the UK but last year the company told Times Higher Education that the number stood at about 2,400.
According to previous statements, Navitas enrolment in the UK rose 1 per cent during the first semester of 2015.
The institutions it works with include Brunel, Swansea and Plymouth universities. It also partners with Birmingham City, Anglia Ruskin and Edinburgh Napier universities, as well as the universities of Hertfordshire and Portsmouth.