As the Home Office reveals 11,000 drop in the number of overseas students since tougher measures introduced this year, UK Universities warns 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 Universities UK action group has issued a warning about Britain’s reputation in education after new figures revealed that the government’s curb on overseas students had reduced their numbers by 11,000 and led to more than 450 colleges pulling out of the market, the Guardian reported earlier this month.
The Home Office said more than 400 of the pre-degree colleges ‘lost their right’ to recruit international students because they could not meet the standards of a new inspection regime.
40% of international students start at private colleges before going on to Universities
Universities UK said cutting such courses was damaging Britain’s reputation for being “open for business” and undermining the pathway programmes operated by many universities.
It estimates that 40% of international students go through such colleges before going taking a degree at a British university.
Student visa reforms, which included tougher sponsor and English language requirements, came into effect in April.
The Home Office said new inspection standards were designed to ensure that genuine international students received the highest quality education.
About 400 colleges – more than 20% of the sector – had their sponsorship revoked as they did not apply in time and 51 had their licences revoked after the UK Border Agency investigated a spike in applications from south Asia just before the tougher English language tests came into force.
The 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 students have come to the UK with the aim of getting work and bringing over family members.”
Nicola Dandridge of Universities UK, said it believed the government’s aim of reducing net migration to below 100,000 a year lay behind the curbs.
“Universities UK believes that the number of international students coming into the country should be accounted for separately and not included in the definition of net migration for the purposes of government policy. International students are not economic migrants. They come to the UK to study and then they leave.”
She said Britain could not afford to make the same costly mistakes as the US and Australia which both curbed overseas students numbers and then dropped the policy when they realised it had seriously damaged the international competitiveness of their higher education sector. Source: Guardian.
UK University (UKUS), the free student placement service said that the figures confirm what the market already knows. International students are turning away from British Universities and colleges and choosing countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
This week English UK, an association representing 450 language colleges, demanded an apology from the Home Office claiming their remarks implied institutions were fronts for illegal immigration.
The Home Office has been threatened with legal action amid claims it mistakenly implied that 22 colleges were bogus or sub-standard.
Earlier this week English UK, an association representing more than 450 language colleges, said the alleged error could bankrupt the institutions. Its lawyers are demanding senior Home Office officials issue an immediate apology and retraction.
The combination of new UK Border Agency ‘Highly Trusted Sponsor’ regulations introduced this year and the new Tier 4 student visa rules, has increased costs whilst destroying the market for private education providers – hence the 400 closing their doors or simply opting out of the new Highly Trusted regime.
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