Cynthia Barker writes that UK based non-EU students are increasingly looking to Universities as a place to continue their studies after having their fingers burned by private colleges.
Although University fees are higher than in the private sector, students are more secure from the kind of immigration rule changes which the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has inflicted on non-government colleges in the last few months.
As an immigration adviser I have met students who have been through up to three private colleges only to see each one been closed down or had their Tier 4 licence revoked just months after been put on the register by the UKBA.
With this in mind some are no longer prepared to risk losing thousands of pounds on a college which, however reputable, can be put out of business at the stroke of a pen.
So what are the pro’s and con’s of a University compared to a private provider?
The first obvious advantage of using a government funded provider is security. Any rule changes are likely to favour the state sector, which had previously been losing out to more competitive private colleges, and Universities will not lose their Tier 4 licence – however badly they monitor their students!
The other crucial advantage is that most University courses lead to a recognised Bachelors or Masters degree, which means you can automatically qualify to stay in the UK under the ‘Post-study work’ scheme for two years under Tier 1 of the points based system. Some private colleges also offer degree level courses validated by Universities.
British Universities are renowned all over the world for their excellence and high standards and a UK degree carries a lot of weight on any CV.
On the other hand fees for courses will be much higher than a private college, a typical degree course will cost around £8900 per annum, and term times are not so flexible.
However, Evelie Padadac an OISC registered immigration adviser with Bison Management UK, said students with a Philippine degree can benefit from their APL (Accredited Prior Learning) and gain a degree in a shorter time or go straight to a one year post graduate Masters programme.
For instance, a student with a nursing degree and some experience back home could gain a UK BSc in Nursing degree, which would enable them to practice as a registered nurse, by only completing the final year of the course.
There are a multitude of subjects from Foundation degrees to MBA’s available to study with the most popular courses for overseas students being business and management.
Colleges fight back
The UK Border Agency are facing a raft of Judicial Reviews against Tier 4 suspension decisions from international colleges.
In March English UK, which represents English language schools, launched a legal challenge against the Home Office over fears that the UK will lose thousands of jobs and £400m in income through tighter visa regulations.
Earlier this month a cross party group of 14 MP’s signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling on the UK Government to abolish ‘flawed and rushed’ legislation brought in by the previous administration requiring overseas students wishing to study English in Britain to first pass an English test. An appeal against the Home Office interpretation of the Points Based System has succeeded in the Court of Appeal. The case is Secretary of State for the Home Department v Pankina  EWCA Civ 719. The question now is where this leaves the Home Office on the many Judicial Review cases it is defending against international colleges and English UK.
Overseas students worth £8 billion to UK economy
Financial pressures have made overseas students an increasingly important source of income for universities and the wider economy.
In the UK, overseas students are worth £5.3bn each year, according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and £8 billion according to former immigration minister Phil Woolas.
There are plenty of countries waiting in the wings to woo international students such as Australia where students have a route to residency.
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