New rules for overseas students
March 23, 2011, spelt bad news for the United Kingdom’s large foreign student population with David Cameron’s government carrying out its promise to reduce immigration and curb visa abuse to make drastic changes in the law regarding visas.
The new visa restriction is estimated to reduce the number of international students by 80,000, with the changes to the post-study visa affecting a further 20,000.
What are the recent rules?
Proposals under the new immigration scheme aim to clamp down on the number of bogus colleges offering foreign students places, reduce the number of UK student visas to people wanting to attend sub-degree courses, raise the English language requirements, and tighten regulations around foreign students working in the UK.
While the Government is clamping down on bogus colleges that offer students places, the new rules will have severe repercussions for the UK economy.
These changes have come under fire from educational institutions that feel that a downfall in student entry into Britain is inevitable, and therefore a fall in the economy is imminent.
Alike the Aussies
On February 1, 2011, a cross-party group of MPs were warned that the UK risks causing a collapse in international demand for study in the country, similar to that experienced in Australia, if it continues on its proposed policy on visas.
Simeon Underwood, academic registrar at the London School of Economics, told the committee that Australia’s Monash University had been forced to cut jobs because of the fall in international enrolments. With establishments like the University of the Arts London already having to cut jobs and announce redundancies, it makes an already dire situation worse.
In Australia, the government introduced a number of restrictions in 2009-10 that were designed to eliminate abuse, and which as a result affected the sector as a whole. In the end, prominent universities, like Monash University, had to cut 300 jobs due to the change in immigration laws.
The issues that come with freer immigration laws are definitely a problem, yet the more obvious quick-fix solutions can prove to be disastrous. The state of the economy and education are undoubtedly interlinked, with education being one of the few sectors that brings in steady income to the economy.
This will be difficult for the country’s education sector, as well as the UK economy, to recover from. The income improves the already high standards of the educational institutions in the country. However, a clampdown on immigration laws will reduce income by limiting the flow of customers, resulting in a reduction of the quality of services rendered.
Lobby group Universities UK says the changes would cripple student enrolment and graduate level research in the sciences and engineering, where students from outside the European Union can count for more than 60 per cent of enrolment. Ellinor Thunberg of the LCC said: “It is definitely a bad idea; London is such a multicultural city, and this might affect that.”
Contrary to what the government assumes, the foreign students issue is loaded with complications. Proposed restrictions will end up with a domino effect: negative attitudes towards the UK and its businesses, lost chances to form bonds with foreign businesses and corporations, lost jobs in UK universities, research studies declining even further as the financial means to support universities falls away, could have catastrophic effects on the UK economy.