Anti-Fraud Reforms Could Affect Foreign Students in UK


Foreign students at publicly funded universities in Britain will be losing the right to work while they study if a new plan is approved.

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire announced that, if this bill passes, students from outside of the European Union will not be allowed to work beginning in August. According to the Home Office, this is a “new crackdown on visa fraud” and aims to prevent the use of student visas as “a back door to the country’s job market.”

Brokenshire explained that the reforms are meant to clean up a troubled, fraud-filled pipeline:

Immigration offenders want to sell illegal access to the UK jobs markets, and there are plenty of people willing to buy. Hardworking taxpayers who are helping to pay for publicly funded colleges expect them to be providing top-class education, not a back door to a British work visa.

Our reforms– which include introducing English language testing, removing sponsorship rights from hundreds of bogus colleges, and restricting students’ access to the jobs market– are all part of our plan to control immigration for the benefit of Britain.

870 universities can no longer accept foreign students, according to the Times of India.

In this autumn, other restrictive measures will be introduced. Higher education visas will be reduced from three years to two; college students will be prevented from staying and working in Britain once their course is over and will be required to leave the country before getting a job; and students will be prevented from extending their studies unless registered at an institution with a formal link to a university.

Home Secretary Theresa May has been pushing to reduce annual net migration to below 100,000. The number of foreign students at British schools has fallen drastically as a result – from 110,000 in 2011 to 18,297 in the last year, writes Alan Travis of the Guardian.

The Association of Colleges has criticized these changes, stating that Britain is diminishing its attractiveness to international students. Chief Executive Martin Doel said that other countries will become more appealing if the UK’s burdens and restrictions are too onerous:

Preventing international FE students continuing to study in the UK after they have finished their studies will limit the progression of students from colleges to universities.

A-levels and international foundation year courses represent legitimate study routes for international students with many going on to successfully complete degrees at top-ranking universities. In blocking the route from further education to university, the government will do long-term harm to the UK as an international student destination and this policy needs urgent reconsideration.

Doel also noted that schools have strict attendance monitoring systems and that he had seen no evidence of bogus students.

Seamus Nevin, the Head of Employment and Skills at the Institute of Directors, argued that these policies will do long-term damage to the UK’s economy and global influence by preventing businesses from hiring graduates with valuable skills, writes Matt Chorley of the Daily Mail.

According to Matt Dathan of the Independent, international students also bring money that boosts the British economy in the short term.