The UK Border Agency’s revocation of London Metropolitan University’s Tier 4 licence to sponsor overseas students has “strengthened” the UK’s image abroad, the Canadian Immigration Minister claims.
Jason Kenney, Canada’s outspoken Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, told Times Higher Education the controversial decision demonstrated the UK’s commitment to ensuring high-quality higher education, rather than damaging its reputation overseas.
His views are in direct contradiction to those of ‘UK Universities’, which recently warned that not only is the government’s action damaging Britain’s reputation, but was also responsible for 400 private colleges effectively opting out of the new Tier 4 sponsoring system.
The UK Border Agency has ‘closed down’ an estimated 500 so called “bogus” colleges in just 18 months.
He is now warning that the Canadian Government will be “go the same direction”.
“We need to facilitate student study visas for bona fide students going to bona fide institutions,” he added. That meant recognising that “there are many sub-par institutions that are not providing quality programmes, and which are mostly facilitating various forms of legal migration for people coming on study programmes”.
Commenting on the revocation of the UK Government owned London Met’s, which lost it’s licence to recruit non-EU students weeks before the start of the new academic year, Kenney continued:
“We have very similar problems and we intend to take similar steps. I read the London Met controversy as sending a strong message that the UK is going to maintain the integrity of its post-secondary brand to international students.”
It remains to be seen whether the Canadian Government would revoke the licence of one of its own universities. On the other hand, profit making privately owned colleges are always seen as fair game for regulators.
20,000 foreign students gain permanent residence in Canada under Canadian Experience Class programme
Despite the tough rhetoric, Canada is still trying hard to attract the brightest and best from around the world – not only to take their fees, but to offer them the opportunity stay on and gain Candian permanent residence (PR) and contribute to the country.
Since Canada launched its Canadian Experience Class, a programme designed to encourage overseas students to attend the country’s universities, in 2008, over 20,000 foreign students have been granted Canadian permanent residence, which can lead to Canadian Citizenship.
Under current UK Immigration Rules, it is not possibleto gain Indefinite Leave to Remain on a Tier 4 Student Visa and it will take years to be naturalised as a British Citizen.
Tony Blair’s Labour Government launched the successful Student Initiative, a similar programme to attract international students, as well as the Post Study Work Visa (PSW) and High Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP), all of which have since been ditched.
Tier 4 students must now find a qualifying Tier 2 sponsoring employer to stay on and work in the UK after graduating, and stay in employment for at least five years bofre applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or permanent residence.
Cynthia Barker of Immigration Advisers Bison Management UK points out that in the world of British immigration ‘there is more than one road to heaven’.
“Some students have gained UK residence by taking advantage of human rights ‘Article 8 right to a family life’ laws after entering into relationships or having children with a settled person.
“We have helped migrants and students even after they had overstayed, been refused, deported or committed a crime such as bigamy.” She added reminding migrants and students to “Seek advice from a qualified OISC registered immigration adviser and NEVER give up!”.
Kenney added that with such a strong drive to recruit from overseas, Canadian universities had a responsibility to ensure that new arrivals integrated into the campus community.
“The question is how to accommodate a growth in the foreign student market without sacrificing the quality of the study experience,” he said. “If [universities] just want to go for the fast track and bring in unlimited numbers of foreign students without any regard for the quality of their student life, then I think that’s a mistake.”
Kenney added: “Some of the more responsible universities in Canada have said to me that they should be careful. Yes, they want to attract foreign students – they enrich campus life and they certainly bring fees – but (the institutions) want to make sure that they don’t end up with parallel communities forming on campus.”
University administrators had a responsibility to “make sure it’s a quality product, a quality experience, and that the kids actually feel like they’re going to school in England or Canada instead of back home”.
“Quite frankly, if you’re coming from an upper-middle-class Chinese family to study in Britain or Canada, your primary focus is to learn English,” he added. “You shouldn’t want to end up in a university where 30 or 40 per cent of the students are Mandarin speakers.”
The Minister spoke to THE following an appearance at Immigration and Integration: A North American Perspective, an event in London hosted by UK thinktank Policy Exchange. Source: Times Higher Education.
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See also: Why the world wants to be Canadian
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