New figures by the UK's Home Office have revealed that the government's curb on overseas students had reduced their numbers by 11,000 and led to more than 450 colleges pulling out of the market. The Universities UK action group has issued a warning saying that it is detrimentally effecting Britain's reputation in the sector, writes Alan Travis at the Guardian.
More than 20% of the UK's colleges had their sponsorship revoked as they did not apply in time and 51 had their licenses revoked after the UK Border Agency investigated a spike in applications from south Asia just before the tougher English language tests came into force.
The Home Office announced that more than 400 of the pre-degree colleges lost their right to recruit international students because they failed to meet the standards of a new inspection regime. The new standards are designed to ensure that genuine international students received the highest quality education.
Universities UK said the cuts are far too damaging Britain's reputation for being "open for business" and is undermining the pathway programs operated by many universities. The group estimates that 40% of international students go through such colleges before going taking a degree at a British university.
The immigration minister, Damian Green, said:
"Widespread abuse of the student visa system has gone on for too long and the changes we have made are beginning to bite. Too many students have come to the UK with the aim of getting work and bringing over family members."
Nicola Dandridge of Universities UK, said it believed the government's aim of reducing net migration to below 100,000 a year lay behind the curbs.
"Universities UK believes that the number of international students coming into the country should be accounted for separately and not included in the definition of net migration for the purposes of government policy. International students are not economic migrants. They come to the UK to study and then they leave."
She said Britain could not afford to make the same costly mistakes as the US and Australia which both curbed overseas students numbers and then dropped the policy when they realized it had seriously damaged the international competitiveness of their higher education sector, writes Travis.