UK student visa; Changes to cut abuses, raise standards

Tough new rules and enforcement action to stop abuse of the student visa system and to protect legitimate students from being misled by questionable institutions has led to over 450 education providers in the UK that will no longer be able to sponsor new international students.

In total these colleges could have brought more than 11,000 students into the UK to study each year.

New UK Border Agency regulations have significantly raised the standards education providers must meet before they can bring international students to the UK. So far, over 400 colleges have lost their right to recruit international students after they failed to sign up for the new inspection system. As well as cutting abuse, the new standards will help ensure that genuine international students receive the highest quality education.

In addition, a targeted UK Border Agency investigation into more than 100 colleges has led to 51 having their licences to recruit international students revoked. The investigation followed a spike in applications from South Asia just before the English language requirement rules were tightened.

One college advertised classes even though the website said it was shut for maintenance, while another could not even produce a list of students enrolled or a timetable of classes. On inspection, others could not produce any records of student attendance, or evidence of checking student qualifications. Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘Widespread abuse of the student visa system has gone on for too long and the changes we have made are beginning to bite.

‘Too many institutions were offering international students an immigration service rather than an education and too many students have come to the UK with the aim of getting work and bringing over family members. Only first-class education providers should be given licences to sponsor international students.

‘We have curbed the opportunities to work during study and bring in family members. We have also introduced new language requirements to ensure we only attract genuine students whose primary motivation is to study.’

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