The UK government has added a number of major Asian nations to the list of countries in which international students benefit from a “streamlined” British visa application process.
Caroline Nokes, the immigration minister, announced the move – which adds 11 nations including China, Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia to the list, as well as Mexico – in a written ministerial statement published on 15 June.
“This change demonstrates the continued focus on improving the UK’s offer to international students,” said Ms Nokes.
China is the UK’s number one source of international students.
But the new nations added to the list do not include India, where UK universities have seen a huge dip in recruitment after the abolition of post-study work visas in 2012.
The Home Office said in a press statement that “students from an additional 11 countries, including China, will be able to provide a reduced level of documentation when applying for their Tier 4 visa.
“All students from these countries still need to meet all requirements under Tier 4 and UK Visas and Immigration reserves the right to request this evidence in full and will do so for a random sample of applications.”
The addition of the 11 new nations brings the total number of countries on the list to 28.
Tim Bradshaw, Russell Group chief executive, said: “This is good news. The UK reaps important economic, social and cultural benefits from the international students who study here and we know that a simple and welcoming visa system is key in attracting them.
“China is clearly an important market for Russell Group universities and we are pleased to see other countries on the list, such as Mexico and Thailand, where we expect to see growth in the future.
“Following announcements this week on new entry routes for international entrepreneurs and the decision to ease restrictions on foreign doctors and nurses, the Home Office appears to be on a roll.
“We hope that the next step will be to take international students out of the net migration target, sending the message that we are an open and global Britain.”
Greg Walker, MillionPlus chief executive, said that “while today’s announcement is a positive step, there remains ground to make up on our competitor countries. We would urge the government to follow this decision with further reform of Britain’s offer to international students, who are hugely beneficial to the UK and to the regions in which they study.
“Taking international students – a third of whom study at modern universities – out of the migration target would likely boost recruitment of these important and valued students.”