Sunday, March 6, 2011

Student Visas in the UK may take a Big Hit

Universities hit out at visa plans for foreign students

In a letter to the Observer, 16 vice-chancellors express 'profound concern' over Theresa May's plans to limit visas

Universities across the country [UK] will have to close vital science and engineering courses and sack staff unless the home secretary, Theresa May, drops controversial plans to limit UK visas for international students, a powerful alliance of vice-chancellors has warned.

In a letter to the Observer, 16 vice-chancellors express their "profound concern" at the proposals, making clear that they will have a devastating effect on universities' incomes and their ability to run the best courses for British, as well as overseas, students. Their intervention will stoke a cabinet battle that has pitted May, who is committed to cut net immigration from 215,000 to 100,000 by 2015, against the business secretary, Vince Cable, and the universities minister, David Willetts.

Cable and Willetts are known to be deeply concerned about the damage to universities and the economy if the £5bn-a-year income universities get from overseas students is choked off.
The vice-chancellors, many of whom have lobbied ministers privately in recent weeks, have gone public with the joint letter just days after a 12-week Home Office consultation over the changes was concluded. A decision from ministers is imminent.

The vice-chancellors say they are "fully aware" of public concern about abuse of immigration rules by bogus students and colleges, and promise to continue playing their part in combatting it. But they insist that "international students in universities overwhelmingly do not abuse the system" and are instead a welcome and much-needed part of the university system.

They add: "International students coming to universities contribute over £5bn each year to the UK economy through tuition fees and off-campus expenditure...more

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