New student visa system turning prospective entrepreneurs away from the UK

The UK's student visa system is turning prospective entrepreneurs away from the UK, according to a leading Indian newspaper, reports Will Straw from India.

Come and study in the UK... But don’t expect a warm welcome from the anti-immigration home secretary

The UK’s student visa system is turning prospective entrepreneurs away from the UK, according to a leading Indian newspaper; Will Straw reports from India

The revelation shows that despite surviving a week of political scrutiny, Theresa May’s policy is storing up long term trouble for Britain. An eight-page supplement distributed with Thursday’s Economic Times of India focused on the UK’s Higher Education system.

The article reported:

“The change in work-visa rule after completing a degree in the UK has caused concern among prospective Indian students. Many feel that the opportunity to work in the UK was the incentive that attracted them to invest in education overseas.

“However, students should realise that the true value of studying in UK is to gain a competitive edge in the Indian job market, which faces a skill gap in many growing sectors.”

The perspective should be troubling for a country where businesses cite the Government’s increasingly strict immigration policy as a drag on growth.

Given UK universities are second only to the United States on quality it is an increasing concern that individuals taught in the UK are being prevented from realising their potential or setting up their own businesses on British soil.

As Sally Hunt, General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), wrote on Left Foot Forward in September:

“The changes to student visas as part of the government’s clampdown on immigration risks making the UK a less popular destination for foreign students, which, based on today’s figures, would be bad news for UK universities as they struggled to adjust to huge government funding cuts.

“It is not just universities and our thriving educational export sector that would suffer though. In June, the home affairs select committee warned government plans to limit visas could result in a £3.6 billion loss from the British economy.

“The government might think soundbites around immigration play well to a domestic audience, but they risk doing real harm to our universities and our reputation on the world stage. UK universities are enriched by the students and academics that come to this country to study, carry out research and share their knowledge.

“Politicians must be very careful not to restrict academic access or make ill-judged comments that give the impression UK universities are closed for business.”

Despite all the evidence, the government appears resolute in its attempt to reduce immigration regardless of whether it enhances the UK’s productivity or not.

The home secretary has survived the Brodie Clark scandal but the damage her policy is causing the UK is yet to be fully understood.

See also:

Anti-foreign student rhetoric risks real harm to our global reputationSally Hunt, September 22nd 2011

How Tory immigration populism is costing us £3.4 billionAwale Olad, July 26th 2011

The crazy economics of reducing foreign student visasStephen Henderson, February 24th 2011

Give the international student market the credit it deservesRanjit Sidhu, October 1st 2010

Visa changes threaten Universities & fan anti-immigrant fearsPeter Bloom, October 15th 2009

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  • BritishCitizen

    If the writer knew more about what really goes on with the visa system, the piece might have been better.

    Firstly, there are many cases over several years – reported and unreported – where bogus colleges were found guilty of shipping in many thousands of ‘students’ each year, most of whom went AWOL within weeks. We all know that the Border Agency can’t find them once they’ve gone underground, and the reported cases are only the tip of a very large iceberg.

    Nor are our legitimate, state-funded universities and colleges guilt-free, even though they are given the benefit of the doubt and a light-touch audit by the UK Border Agency.

    Even reputedly ‘elite’ institutions have recruitment and attendance issues with their foreign students, many of whom also have little intention to study conscientiously. In their case, it’s not because the institutions are fake education providers, but the Home Office Tier 4 Sponsor Management system is totally unwieldy and unfit for purpose. A nightmare to administer, costly and inefficient. The University of Wales has recently suffered the consequences of mis-managing its overseas students and has lost its university status as a result.

    The students who take advantage of this situation in our better universities just happen to have rich enough parents to pay for them to enrol at institutions where they can come and go as they please without much interference from the UK border authorities. As in so many other things, money gets you pretty much anything you want.

    So what’s the answer?
    UK universities have painted themselves into a corner by becoming so dependent on foreign income, and aided by successive governments who have underfunded education on all levels. They also expanded too quickly in the 1990s and now we have over-capacity.

    As difficult as this situation may be for the higher education sector, it is time to accept that we cannot sustain this house of cards. It’s not only a matter of visas and errant students, but poor business management to rely so heavily on foreign income when we live in such a competitive world of market forces.

    Far from making the visa system easier, we need more rigorous entrance requirements in terms of academic ability, English ability and a stricter attendance & monitoring system. Then we can make sure that the thousands of students allowed to study here are genuine and will return home after their studies.

    If we make access to our education system harder, it will be valued more and can only gain in stature. It should therefore be a sensible long-term strategy for growth and income, not ‘give-us-your-money-now’ and you’re in.

  • Newsbot9

    “Firstly, there are many cases”

    The system Labour brought in has that under control.

    “They also expanded too quickly in the 1990s and now we have over-capacity.”

    UK rates of graduation have shrunk over the last decade and half, and are now dangerously low for a first-world nation, and are set to plunge further. There is a multi-party failure of vision here.

    “Far from making the visa system easier, we need more rigorous entrance requirements in terms of academic ability, English ability and a stricter attendance & monitoring system.”

    Costing us billions, and losing many of the skilled teachers, who will not become immigration cops.

    “If we make access to our education system harder, it will be valued more and can only gain in stature.”

    We already have a world-class university system. Well, it’s being dismantled, but we did. Making it simply hard to access means that other universities in Europe, many of whom charge lower fees and teach in English, will benefit at Britain’s expense.

    Why do you hate Britain that much?
    (Hint: If people want to spend money here, it’s smart to let them too!)

  • BritishCitizen

    Under control? Unfortunately not. I’ve worked in higher education, further education and independent education for over 15 years, so I have direct experience.

    Your ‘rates of graduation’ comment reinforces my point about too much expansion (creating over-capacity) at the expense of quality. Lots more start degree programmes than pre-1992, but fewer complete and graduate by comparison.

    Where are your ‘costing us billions’ figures coming from? You say ‘teachers’ and ‘immigration cops’, but university lecturers don’t do the initial selection or subsequent monitoring, so I’m not clear what you mean. Are you a teacher or lecturer? Doesn’t sound like it to me.

    As for the final points, you don’t make any sense, and the fact that you’ve ended your sentence with ‘too’ instead of ‘to’ shows me that you’re only semi-literate yourself.

    Stick to what you know and don’t get out of your depth.

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  • Mr. Sensible

    I find it absolutely extraordinary that the government is prepared to relax worker’s rights, environmental regulations ETC in the name of cutting red tape, yet their restrictive immigration rules aren’t on the table. Double standards?

  • nomad

    what the hell is over-capacity. Modern Unis are not medieval monasteries nor they will prosper if someone try to run it like elitist schools.

  • BritishCitizen

    If you don’t know what overcapacity is, why are you even bothering to comment?
    It means they built bigger facilities and now they can’t fill them.
    Nothing to do with ‘elitist’.


  • August7979

    Now gov don’t have money to spend.if gov wand money to spend they have to get the tax from people.
    for that some way people of uk have to spend money.
    when they stop one money flow they have to think other money flow
    other money source is increase the tax
    yes increase the tax …………………

  • bernician

    Sadly its the same for students from many third world countries in many western countries. They aren’t studying abroad just for the sake of studying abroad but as a way to hopefully move to the west.
    That is what truly attracts people.
    And lol at the image, cutting out northern Ireland like that…

  • Newsbot9

    “That is what truly attracts people”

    Right, don’t need no stinking blackies crowding up tha place!


  • Newsbot9

    Oh of course. Same for the drug laws.

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