* Tory plan will require some students to hand over £2,000 bond
* Foreign students would be banned from switching courses
A proposal for clamping down on visas to foreign students, particularly Pakistan and Afghanistan, that includes requirements for some student applicants to hand over an annual £2,000 bond and a tightening of colleges entitled to sponsor students, was likely to be proposed on Friday by the British shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, The Guardian reported.
The Tories, who regard the student visa system as the weakest link in Britain’s border controls, demanded a ban on students switching courses in the country.
Grayling has been consulting higher education about the proposals, aware that foreign students were money-spinners for the financially pressed sector. He claimed that the consequence of Britain’s lax controls was “tens of thousands of bogus students in the UK and hundreds of unregulated colleges providing student visas, but little education”.
The paper said “last month a total of 1,925 organisations stood approved by the UK Border Agency to sponsor migrant students, yet Grayling points out that there are only 165 universities and higher education colleges in the UK”. Many of the rest are self-accredited colleges. Grayling said there were now more than three times as many foreign students entering the country as when Labour was in power.
“In 2008-09 the government issued 236,470 student visas. In 1998 only 69,607 were issued. Student visas now represent three-quarters of the visas issued under the UK points-based system, introduced in 2008,” The Guardian said.
The Tories say in a recent nine-month period, “only 29 visa applicants out of 66,000 applying to enter the UK from Pakistan were actually interviewed by officials”.
More than 13,000 applications from Afghanistan and Pakistan have not been fraud-checked at all since October 2008, the paper said.
According to Grayling’s plan, only higher education institutions registered at Companies House would be entitled to fast-track students. Foreign students from non-recognised bodies would be required to pay a bond of £1,000-£2,000, repaid in instalments at the end of each academic year.
Rules would be tightened to prevent student applicants borrowing money to prove they are financially independent.
Students would be required to leave the UK after their course in order to apply for a work visa. Daily Times