UK Visas and Immigration has enhanced the visa service provided to visitors to the UK from China by improving our visa application centres, introducing online applications for independent travellers and introducing a comprehensive range of premium services, including a new, 24-hour service. The 24-hour service is also available in India, and it will be launched in other key markets later this year.
Lancaster university is one of the top 10 universities in the country and it educates more than 1,000 Chinese students a year. Will the new changes help those students?
I welcome the approach that Lancaster university and other universities are taking. Clearly, we welcome legitimate students who are studying at our universities, and I am pleased that there has been a 4% increase in student visa applications from Chinese students. Our approach is very much about controlling immigration while attracting the brightest and best, including students to study at our universities.
One of the so-called improvements to our immigration system is the decision to require asylum seekers, including those from China, to make fresh submissions in person at Liverpool. Would the Minister care to dispute the comments of Dave Smith of the Boaz Trust, who rightly says that it appears to be pure discrimination and a cynical attempt to deter people from putting in fresh submissions?
I rebut that entirely. The proposal is about bringing into line arrangements that were already in place in relation to pre-2007 asylum applications. We have a specialist centre—a specialist unit—in Liverpool and it is ensuring that those further submissions are considered appropriately and effectively.