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Minister to announce crackdown on student visa numbers today | Immigration Matters

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The number of foreign, non-EU students currently being let into the UK is “unsustainable”, Immigration Minister Damian Green will announce today the BBC has reported.

News agencies have been briefed on a speech the minister will deliver later, in which he will question whether Britain is attracting the best students – with only half of student visas issued for university courses.

Mr Green’s comments come as Home Office research suggests one-fifth of students were still in the UK five years after being granted student visas.

The Home Office study tracked non-EU migrants who came to the UK in 2004.

But the BBC said the National Union of Students dismissed Mr Green’s comments as a “misinterpretation” of the facts.

The largest group – some 185,000 people – were students, and 21% were still in the country five years later.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says this, together with an increasing number of new overseas students, has led Mr Green to make reform of the student immigration route a priority.

Ministers also intend to examine work visas as two-fifths of people in this group remained in the UK after five years.

Ahead of his speech, Mr Green said: “We can’t assume that everyone coming here has skills the UK workforce cannot offer.”

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t want to interfere with the success stories of our universities.”

But he said there was a need to examine closely sub-degree courses and the reasons for students remaining in the UK.

Mr Green said: “Why are they staying on? What are they staying on to do? This is part of a wider look we need to take at the immigration system.”

Office for National Statistics figures released last month showed net migration to the UK increased by 33,000 to 196,000 in 2009.

The number of visas issued to students went up by 35% to 362,015.

Mr Green said the figures were proof the coalition government had inherited an immigration system “largely out of control”.

“What these figures tell me is that we also need to look at all the other routes [aside from employment] by which people come into this country, maybe for education, for family reunion reasons and also, in particular, routes that lead to permanent settlement,” he said.

Source: BBC News

Sarah Mulley, a senior research fellow at leading think tank ippr said reducing the numbers of student visas will have little effect on long term immigration figures: 

‘Although rising foreign student numbers increase net migration figures in the short term, most student migration is temporary, so it’s not clear what the impact is in the longer term. 

‘The relatively low proportion of foreign students settling in the UK means that it will be difficult for the Government to reduce net migration in the medium-long term by reducing the number of student visas that it issues.’

The government rightly wants to ensure that Britain attracts genuine overseas students, which are worth £8 billion to the UK economy.

The Tier 4 points based system relaxed the entry requirements for students when it was introduced in 2009 by the former Labour government, taking much of the decision making powers away from Entry Clearance Officers in British Embassy visa sections.

However, the points system does allow the Home Office to quickly adjust the criteria or raise the bar to entry as a student under tier 4, as in the case of changes made by the Labour government earlier this year just before the general election.

What do you think of Damian Green’s plan? Send us your comments below.

See also:

Weekly UK Immigration News Round up 05 September 2010

Net immigration figure pose a problem for UK Prime Minister Cameron

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13 Responses to “Minister to announce crackdown on student visa numbers today”
Read them below or add one

  1. […] Minister to announce crackdown on student visa numbers today […]

  2. See the UK Border Agency website section: ‘Visiting the UK’ http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visitingtheuk/

  3. Tessie says :

    Yeah… The ministers should really look out to those on student Visa that are still here in UK for more than 5 years.. i think some of them they still taking up courses… just to take advantageon student visa but what the immigration should do is that when they had 5 yrs here they should not get the chance to renew it. that they should be going home again and then if they want to come back they can apply after 2 years… So that the other who want to come over here will also have the chance to enter….

  4. […] Minister to announce crackdown on student visa numbers today […]

  5. […] Minister to announce crackdown on student visa numbers today […]

  6. jannie dell Salvador says :

    Dear madamme;Good Day , I woul’d like to know the procedure about your tourist visa there in UK.

  7. ooogiii says :

    i wonder how it can be effectively help to reduce the number of net migration. Just week before my friend’s visa application was refused even she got 40 points from point based system. The reason was so strange, according to visa officer there was 2 reasons. First of all, the sponsor letter written by her parents was in English, therefore there is no proof that her parents might be fluent English speaker. Second of all, at the time the visa officer made his or her decision she/ the applicant has not reach 18, but just week later she reached 18, so she can not be legally go to the UK without parents or guardian.
    What a poor decision. It was unbelievable, in my opinion refusing the overseas student visa recently is somehow related by Olympic game. Of course not strongly but still

  8. Ido believe there are too many poeple in the UK now,i have seen poeple come in here in the name of student visa,and no body has even botherd to check if they returned to their countries,they later get married to EU members in this country and they stay on for good.i think,the government must rather scrap the system where illigal immigrants can get married to EU citizens,in the country if any one wants to get married they should go back to their respective countries and get married there.it should be made clear that if you come here on a visit,or as a student you can not get married here,you should make your travelling arrengments 3 months before your student visa expires,plus you will have to go back to your country and have your visa extended if you wish to do so.

  9. […] Minister to announce crackdown on student visa numbers today […]

  10. […] Earlier this week the minister said that the number of foreign students let into the UK was unsustainable. […]

  11. […] On Monday, immigration minister Damian Green said that the number of foreign students let into the UK was unsustainable. […]

  12. […] Minister to announce crackdown on student visa numbers today Tags: Damian Green, i, points based system, student visa, The Migrant Journey, Tier 4 for students […]

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