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Scottish Universities ‘at risk’ over immigration cap, UK accreditation body warns | Immigration Matters

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Non-EU students taking a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) are being put off applying to Scottish universities because of “unhelpful” immigration cap legislation, a UK accreditation body warned this week. 

The resulting “confusion” among applicants puts universities, which rely on the tens of thousands paid by MBA students each year to fund other programmes, at “risk”, warns Sharon Bamford, the Scottish chief executive of Association of MBAs (Amba).

She said: “Scotland has been built on its international outlook, but there is a worry (for these institutions] when we stop being international. There is an element of risk.”

Bamford added: “The message we need government to give out is we are open for business and the confusion is not helpful.”

Immigration Minister Damian Green last week said that the proposed crackdown on visas was designed to prevent bogus students from coming to stay in the UK, which he dubbed an “abuse” of the system.

Damian Green reiterated the Government’s plans to review the Tier 4 student visa system in a speech to the think tank Reform.

Speaking at a conference in London last week, Mr Green focused particularly on the privately-funded further education sector (private colleges), which he said is subject to ‘less regulation and more open to abuse’.

The national consultation on Tier 4 closed on the 31 January and Mr Green outlined how the agency will ‘use this to further strengthen the student visa system and clamp down on abuses of the student route to the UK’.

But Bamford said MBA students in particular contributed to the economy of the UK while they were studying and they should be free to work in the UK once their studies are completed.

“You have to distinguish between a language school above a chip shop in Bermondsey from a programme that costs international students £30,000 a year to do,” said Bamford.

Last month Amba submitted evidence to a Homes Affairs select committee looking at the impact of proposed restrictions on Tier 4 migration.

Amba argued that the proposals risked “alienating future global business leaders from UK business programmes poses a high risk of medium to long term consequences to the UK economy”.

Amba said restriction would force prospective students to study in competitor countries including Canada, the US and Australia, as well as emerging MBA programmes on offer in India and China, two of the UK’s biggest markets for international students. Source: By Erikka Askeland, The Scotsman. 

Universities and higher education providers are lobbying the government to drop plans to end the popular Tier 1 post study work visa (PSW), which will have an even greater impact on Tier 4 student numbers than the Tier 2 work visa migration cap.

The coalition government wants to ‘reduce annual net migration to the UK to sustainable levels, in the tens of thousands a year’, and that it ‘expects the student route to make its contribution towards reducing net migration’.

At present graduates and degree level and above are allowed to remain in the UK for up to two years on a Tier 1 post study work visa (PSW) in order to look for work with a view to switching into a Tier 2 working visa category.

Tier 1 was the flagship category of the five tier points based system set up by the previous Labour government. The idea behind Tier 1 was to attract the ‘brightest and best’, as well as making the UK an attractive place to come and study.

The new coalition government, which came to power last year, wants to prevent students from automatically staying on at the end of their studies.

The student visa system consultation document states:

‘The student route is a temporary migration route, with students expected to leave on completion of their studies. We are concerned that the Post Study Work route confuses this concept. This route enables international graduate students to move from study to work in the UK.

‘All students who have studied in the UK and have been awarded a UK recognised bachelor’s or postgraduate degree, a UK Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), Professional Graduate Diploma of Education (PGDE) or a Higher National Diploma from a Scottish institution, are eligible for this route. This then allows the former student to stay in the UK for up to two years to look for skilled work, and then to switch into one of the main work routes (Tier 1 or Tier 2) as soon as they are able to do so. In 2009, over 38,000 Tier 1 Post Study Work applications were granted, along with almost 8,000 of their dependants.

‘Tier 1 Post Study Work is not the only way in which a graduate can stay on and work in the UK; international graduates who wish to enter the UK labour market are able to do so by being sponsored as a Tier 2 migrant. Their student visa is valid for four months after completion of their studies if the course was longer than 12 months in duration, enabling them to secure sponsorship from a UK employer. We have recently facilitated this process by allowing employers to not carry out the Tier 2 Resident Labour Market test in respect of foreign graduates recruited in the UK through the milkround. This will continue.’

‘We therefore propose to close the Tier 1 Post Study Work route. We also invite views on any necessary transitional arrangements.’

Overseas students are worth an estimated £40 billion to the UK economy, an industry second only to the financial sector in terms of ‘export’ earnings. We are not the only player in the market, with Australia, NZ, Canada, as well as emerging markets providing strong competition as well as generous post study options.

With the shutdown of Tier 1 (Tier 3 never opened), plugs on Tier’s 2 and 4, the multi-billion flagship ‘five tier’ points based system, implemented in the last two years, will end up being a one tier one legged immigration system allowing in a few temporary migrants from wealthy countries.

See also:

Tier 2 Working visa reforms announced by UK Border Agency

Edinburgh Students Union oppose UKBA’s student cull

Scottish Universities fears over tough new Tier 4 visa rules

 Tier 4 Consultation ends as Damian Green promises clampdown on Student Visa abuse

71 shortage occupations to be removed from Tier 2 visas in points-based shake up

How to Obtain a Student Visa to Study in the UK

Tier 4 student visa cuts will damage UK Universities, Ministers warned

Tier 1 Post Study Work Visa to be abolished

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