Friday, 18 February 2011

Universities need International Students

The UK Border Agency has begun (and ended) a review into proposals by Immigration Minister Damien Green to cut student visa numbers. The changes will reduce the total number of student visas allotted, but apparently not for university students.

Damien Green has focussed on 'bogus colleges' and students with low standards of English. The cuts in numbers look at students studying at below degree level.

Language standards are implemented differently in different countries. Germany only 'proof of plans to take a language course in Germany' for student visas. In contrast the UK will require students to have B2 (upper intermediate) standard English. According to Keele University this is approximately an A or A* at A Level. With the previous standard being an A at GCSE or below a C at A Level.

The proposals have been condemned by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Universities UK.

Even if this isn't aimed to hit Universities directly, it will still harm international student numbers. By disallowing students to come on pre-university courses, fewer international students will be able to improve their English skills, or gain a recognised diploma as a pathway to university.

In the end of course it comes down to money. David Willetts is already urging universities to charge top rates (of £6000pa+) to home students. If there is a drop in international students this will be even more likely, and universities will have an even larger shortfall to deal with.

As it stands UK higher education is stuck between a rock and a hard place. With falling government funding, and soon less cash from international students. It seems that home students will end up footing the bill. It really sounds as though Mssrs Willetts and Green have not considered one another's pet schemes when devising their own.

I will leave you with a quote from UUK's Nicola Dandrige:
'We do not think international students should be counted as migrants. They are not here for economic reasons. Unlike workers, their time in the UK does not count towards any later application for settlement, and they have no recourse to public funds. If students wish to progress onto further study or take up employment, they must apply to the Home Office for another visa...
It is vital that future student immigration policy is based on proper evidence and not anecdote.'
P.S. I have discussed cuts to international student numbers before.

P.P.S. The consultation ended on Monday 31st Jan 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment