Students turning away from UK universities as rules kick in

12:07 pm Blogroll

by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia

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We have reported on how the UK government is targeting up to 170,000, possibly more, student visas as a way to cut immigration [which seems to have become a political must and is seeing very little serious opposition]. The Guardian has published an excellent article highlighting how this is actually building on rules targeting student “migrants” since 2012. The key changes already implemented have been in altering what is allowed for students work-wise both during and after their course.

Students at private colleges can no longer work at all, while those at public institutions are allowed 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time work in the holidays. The rule for private colleges was to crack down on bogus ones offering a back door to working in the UK. This is clearly lazy government and goes against all principles of a modern and open society. It effectively says everyone is guilty and there is no chance to prove you are innocent i.e. a bona fide student or a bona fide educational institution.

After graduation, students used to be able to work for up to 2 years with very little restriction. Now they must work in an approved, graduate level job earning at least GBP20,800 per year [very few of them around] and they cannot be joined by dependents. Those who support these policies point to the drop off in students from paces such as India and say “Aha, what a success, immigration is being cut and clearly these people just wanted a back door to work in the UK.” Utter nonsense. What has happened is that the UK economy is deprived of large numbers of productive, bright, motivated people who will return tax income to the country in the short-term and may well bring many long-term benefits as they build a career and possible international networks. It deprives universities of the additional income they get from international students. It deprives society of the vibrancy of a multi-cultural environment. Not only that, but it sends all those top-end, high quality people off to other countries that will welcome them such as the US, Canada and Australia and it weakens the attraction of UK universities when they are feeling even more competition for good minds and research funding as the Asian universities begin to make themselves felt.

Luckily, the esteem with which UK qualifications are held in overseas job-markets will maintain at least some continued demand for UK education. But to rely on it is short-sighted and eventually we may see a greatly reduced demand for UK qualifications.

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