Proposals for reform of student immigration

07 December 2010

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s consultation on the reform of the student immigration system, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group of universities said:

“It is crucial that the UK continues to attract the very best academics and students from around the world if we are to maintain our global standing in higher education. There is a fierce global market for the best academic talent, and our track record in attracting international staff and students has made a very important contribution to the considerable success of UK higher education to date.

“Changes which make the visa regime stricter can severely diminish the international attractiveness of a nation’s universities. It is crucial that the immigration system continues to support the efforts of our leading universities to attract talented people who have a legitimate interest in studying, teaching, or carrying out research here. 

“We welcome the Government’s plans to allow universities and other Highly Trusted Sponsors to continue to continue to sponsor the best qualified international students both at degree and other levels.  However, we are aware that some international students currently enter our universities from further education or other sub-degree programmes elsewhere in the UK, and we will need to consider carefully the likely impact of the proposals to severely restrict the number of such students in future.  

"It could be damaging if the Post-Study Work route were closed, because it attracts to the UK some of the world’s most talented students who are looking for the opportunity to gain some work experience here after completing their undergraduate or postgraduate degree. The new restrictions on dependants may also be a disappointment to some older students and those doing research degrees, who are most likely to want to bring their dependants with them to the UK.

"We welcome the proposals to simplify immigration procedures for international students who can be judged to be ‘low risk’ and for the Government and UKBA to do more to ensure  the quality of education provided by private institutions.  

"Through their tuition fees and living expenditure, we estimate that international students at HE institutions in the UK bring investment of at least £5.4bn to our economy annually.  International students make a vital contribution – both financially and academically – to the success of our universities. Higher education is a hugely successful export industry for the UK – and this success must be nurtured.”

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