Monday, February 28, 2011

Student visa curbs spark fury in UK

Feb 28, 2011,LONDON:

As India takes up the issue of imposing new UK student visa curbs, major stake-holders in Britain have opposed the measures that are likely to result in thousands job losses and a cut in the annual contribution of 5 billion pounds to the British economy from the international student market.

India\'s higher education secretary Vibha Puri Das is reported to have met British High Commissioner Richard Stagg in New Delhi earlier this month to register India\'s concerns over the proposed measures.

The measures piloted by Immigration minister Damian Green are likely to adversely affect thousands of Indian students who come to Britain every year for studies at various levels.

Among the measures proposed is the abolishing of the post-study workers visa, which allows Indian and other international students to take up employment in Britain for two years after their study is over.

Many self-financing Indian use this visa to take up work and recover some of the cost of their study in British universities and institutions.

Other measures include a tougher English language requirement for international students, restrictions on bringing dependants, level of courses allowed for student visas and closer monitoring of international students after they arrive in the UK.

Immigration minister Damian Green has said that it is inappropriate to allow overseas students access to British jobs when British workers were themselves struggling to find jobs in an increasingly difficult public spending situation.

Leaders of British education providers (including universities) and employer organisations have strongly criticised the proposed measures that will not only lead to international talent avoiding Britain, but also cause job losses and significant loss of revenue from high fee-paying international students.

Among those in the forefront of opposing the new curbs on student visas are the Universities UK (the umbrella body of British universities), think-tanks Institute for Public Policy Research and CentreForum (rpt CentreForum), and the Association of MBAs.

According to CentreForum director Chris Nicholson, \"The Government\'s current proposals are destructive and short-sighted. These students provide an immense financial, cultural and academic contribution to Britain\'s universities. It is economic madness crudely to restrict student numbers in this haphazard way.\"

Noting that India and China are two of the UK\'s biggest markets for international students, the Association of MBAs said in its response to the consultation on the student visa review: \"The UK must do all it can to remain competitive in the highly skilled business education sector; turning students away by restricting their access to post-study employment puts their reputations at stake and threatens future viability\".

Professor Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, added: \"Britain\'s world-class higher education system is at risk from these ill-judged reforms.

By using the one crude measure of English proficiency to tackle bogus students, the Government is jeopardising universities and jobs that rely on them around the country.\"

The consultation exercise on the new measures was concluded recently and the government is expected to announce the new measures shortly.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of universities UK, said: \"These consultation proposals, if implemented, will damage our universities, our international reputation and our economy.\"

In a study titled \'Student Migration in the UK\', the Institue for Public Policy Research argued that the proposed reforms to the student visa regime \"could cause substantial harm to the UK\'s education sector and economy, without delivering sustained reductions in total net migration.\"
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