Entry Clearances: Overseas Students

Home Office written question – answered on 9th December 2014.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Labour, Sheffield Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what changes relating to overseas students her Department has made to the points-based immigration system since May 2010.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

Holding answer received on 05 December 2014

This Government has overhauled Tier 4 of the Points-Based System with a package of measures to tackle the widespread abuse that was occurring when we inherited it in May 2010, while still attracting genuine students.

We have cracked down on bogus colleges by making the Tier 4 sponsorship system more rigorous, and this has led to the removal of nearly 800 colleges from the Tier 4 sponsor register since 2011. In order to recruit international

students, education institutions must demonstrate education quality, by undergoing an assessment of their education standards by an independent inspectorate, and a good track record of immigration compliance. Sponsors must

make basic checks on students to ensure that they are genuine students. We have incentivised them to do this by reducing to 10% the permitted visa refusal rate from 1 November 2014. If more than 1 in 10 of a sponsor’s prospective

students are refused a visa, they will lose their Tier 4 licence.

We have made it more difficult for non-genuine students to abuse the system. They must demonstrate that they are a genuine student in a credibility interview, meet tougher English language and maintenance requirements and have

a proven academic track record. We have introduced a maximum time limit on the period of study in the UK and if a student wants to undertake further study, they must show that this is academic progress. We have also restricted the

right to work while studying for students at universities and publicly funded further education colleges, and removed them altogether for students at private colleges, where abuse was greatest.

We have ensured that the UK’s university sector remains attractive to international students - they can use their own method to determine their student’s English language proficiency, their students can work whilst studying

here, postgraduates can bring dependants and graduates can stay on and work if they can secure a graduate level job. We have doubled the number of places on the Graduate Entrepreneur scheme to 2,000, and created a new visa for graduates wishing to undertake a corporate internship, or professional training related to their degree. We also allow all students who have completed a PhD to stay in the UK for an additional year to work, gain experience in their chosen field, or set up as an entrepreneur.

The latest statistics show that this approach is working – applications for study visas for university students have increased by 2% in the year ending September 2014, with a 4% increase for those with an offer from a Russell Group

university. Whilst applications for study visas for further education – where the abuse was greatest – have fallen by 13% over the same period.

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