University funding in Wales could be knocked off course if fewer international students are able to enter the UK, Plaid Cymru claimed.
The Welsh party argues that if many students are denied visas an important source of funding will be lost.
The latest warning comes a week after 68 university chancellors claimed that the UK’s immigration policy risked damaging the UK universities and genuine students could be discouraged from applying.
Plaid Cymru education spokesman Simon Thomas said: “The truth of the matter is that overseas students pay more for their education here and they are a crucial stream of funding for universities. This is particularly true in Wales where the Welsh Government’s higher education funding policy to cap the fees of Welsh students is dependent on a secure income stream.
“Plaid Cymru has grave concerns about whether the government will afford its policy in any case, but if international students are cut off then it will be nigh on impossible. Sustaining high standards in Welsh universities may not be a priority for the UK Government, but is vital that we do so.
“Stopping overseas students from attending out universities will have a big impact not only on our education sector, but on our communities and the wider economy. Higher education institutions in Wales are already facing an uncertain future and this will only add to that uncertainty.
“I will write to the Immigration Minister to express my serious concerns, and to urge him to revise his definition in order to protect our universities.”
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: “There is no limit on the number of genuine students who can come to the UK and our reforms are not stopping them. But we are determined to prevent the abuse of student visas as part of our plans to get net migration down to the tens of thousands.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The Education Minister is aware of the potential impact on higher education of the UK Government’s Tier 4 immigration policy. While immigration is not a devolved matter, the Education Minister has voiced his concerns in writing to the UK’s Immigration Minister.
“Regardless of the UK’s policy on immigration, the Welsh Government’s tuition fees policy remains affordable, and will be delivered as per the manifesto commitment.”
Vice chancellors opposed to the UK Government’s policies last week claimed that approximately one in 10 students who study outside their home country come to Britain, bringing in around £8bn in tuition fees annually.
It is argued this could rise to £17bn by 2025 but if student numbers fall then universities are facing are facing an average loss of between £5m and £7m a year.
Rhondda Labour MP and shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant has described the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government’s policy as “inept,” simultaneously discouraging genuine students while failing to hit targets.
Under the changes, international students can no longer bring their dependants with them unless they are taking a postgraduate course lasting at least 12 months.
In 2010-11 there were 428,225 non-UK students in Britain – 14% of full-time first-degree students.
International students who have studied in the UK include some of the most famous names in modern world history. Among those who have to the UK for a university education are former US president Bill Clinton, ex-prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, the American poet TS Eliot, Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi and Burmese democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi. Source: Wales Online.
Some universities have reported a 40% fall in international students and could now face downsizing or even closure. Hundreds of thousands of ’genuine’ students are taking their money to Australia, Canada and other countries which are seen to welcome international tax paying students.
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UK Work Study
UK Work Study specialises in helping international students and workers prepare for their move to the UK. The Study Pack and Workers Pack contains numerous items to assist in the move, this includes the setting up of a bank account before arrival, pre-paid cash card, a UK telephone number, free international money transfer, National Insurance number assistance, comprehensive guides to the UK and partnering with other specialist companies to cover all the key areas of moving and providing expert advice.
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You could qualify for a tax refund if you are an overseas student, work permit holder, Tier 1, Yellow or Blue Card – in fact any visa type – even if you are no longer legal or have left the UK!