ISLAMABAD: UK Home Secretary Theresa May announced changes to the student visa route on Tuesday.
This announcement follows a major public consultation on the reform of Tier Four – the student entry route to the UK of the Points Based System – after a Home Office review revealed widespread abuse of the system. According to a statement issued by UK Embassy here, May said “It has become very apparent that the old student visa regime failed to control immigration and protect legitimate students from poor quality colleges.
“My aim is not to stop genuine students coming here - it is to eliminate abuse within the system. Our stricter accreditation process will see only first class education providers given licences to sponsor students.”
Stricter controls will be in the best interest of legitimate students. Only properly regulated institutions will be able to sponsor international students, and will allow universities, independent schools and public sector further education colleges to prosper under a revised student visa system.
It will not only help reduce abuse of the student immigration system by those seeking primarily to work, it will also protect legitimate students from being ripped off. In order to only accept the brightest and the best students able to be part of our wider communities, a good standard of English will be crucial. That is why we are making our English language requirements stricter.
In recognition of the important contribution they can make to the UK economy, we will still allow new international graduates to stay in the UK to take up skilled jobs. But we will end the system where graduates were able to do any level of job, including unskilled work, or no job at all for two years. In future they will have to secure a skilled job with a Tier 2 sponsor. This will ensure that international graduates undertake work that is valuable to the UK and to them or return home.
As well as introducing a number of tightening measures, the government also pledged on Wednesday to develop a new entrepreneur route for bright and innovative students who have a business idea and want to make it work in Britain.
The main changes are as follows: From April 2012 all institutions wanting to be sponsors will have to be highly trusted sponsors and become accredited by statutory education inspection bodies by the end of 2012; the current system does not require this and allowed too many poor quality colleges to become sponsors. Those coming to study at degree level will have to speak English at an upper intermediate (B2) level. This is a higher that the current B1 requirement;
UK Border Agency staff will be able to interview students and refuse entry to those who cannot speak English without an interpreter and who therefore patently do not meet the required minimum standards.
Students at universities and publicly funded further education colleges will retain current work rights but all other students will have no right to work, and we will place restrictions on work placements at courses outside of universities.
Only allow postgraduate students at universities and government sponsored students will be able to bring their dependants. At the moment all students on longer courses are able to bring dependants.
We will limit the overall time that can be spent on a student visa to three years at lower levels, as now, and five years at higher levels. At present there is no limit for study at or above degree level.
Closure of the Post Study Work route, which allowed students two years to seek employment after their course ended. Only those graduates who have an offer of a skilled job from a sponsoring employer, in Tier 2 of the Points-Based System will be able to stay to work.”The news