The government has released a revised set of visa proposals which aim to curb the number of foreign students in Britain by around 100,000 a year.
The coalition believes that the new proposals offer compromises on their more stringent original plans, which were met with hostility by universities nationally. Home Secretary Theresa May said that significant changes were necessary to combat abuses in the system and to reduce annual net migration.
The measures, which will be implemented from April, will include alterations to the post-study work route and restrictions on which students can bring dependants to the UK with them. There will be tighter regulations for private colleges wishing to sponsor overseas students, in order to prevent enrolment at bogus colleges.
The concessions offered include scrapping the plan for an arbitrary cap on student migration and allowing some students to stay in the UK after graduation. Revised measures will enable students with the offer of a graduate-level job paying at least Â£20,000 a year to stay on to work.
Additionally, whilst there will be tougher English language requirements in place for those who wish to study in the UK, universities will be able to introduce their own tests for potential students.
A spokesperson for Oxford University said, ‘We welcome the proposals regarding the changes to the student immigration system and are satisfied that our serious concerns were listened to carefully by the Government.
‘The changes announced will ensure that we continue to attract the most intellectually able international students to Oxford and that students will still have the opportunity to take up graduate level jobs after completing their studies.’
Nevertheless there remains opposition to the proposals. Colin Jackson, OUSU’s International Students Officer said, ‘While some of the more egregious proposals (requiring that students physically return home to extend their stay, not allowing universities to vouch for students’ ability to speak English, etc.) have been done away with, the tone – and more importantly the effect – of these proposals still belies what I see as hostility towards international students.’
Clare Joyce, an American PPE student, told Cherwell, ‘It is important to remember that there are already many obstacles for non-EU students seeking to pursue their studies in the UK … The ability to attract the best and the brightest, regardless of their home country, to Oxford, is a substantial part of what keeps Oxford globally competitive in an age where that competition has become more intense than ever.’
Similarly, Vartan Shadarevian, a first-year student at University College, said, ‘International students on graduation, by virtue of their degree, are some of the best educated immigrants in the country. They pay much higher international fees, and throughout their time of study pay living and accommodation costs, pouring huge sums of money into the British economy … foreign students represent the most welcome form of immigration, and treating them as other immigrants is an ill advised, ill thought-out policy direction.’