New UK review into how visa system affects students

A review has been launched into how the UK's post-Brexit, points-based immigration system is impacting on the appeal of British universities to overseas students.

Image of female student studying in library
The review is being undertaken by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration David Neal, who is appealing to "anyone with relevant professional knowledge or personal experience" to submit evidence by November 15.In a statement, the Government said, "The Independent Chief Inspector is interested in assessing the extent to which the Home Office’s immigration functions support the objectives laid out in the UK government’s International Education Strategy, as updated in February 2021."To that end, it is expected that this inspection will adopt a broad perspective on the interaction between the UK’s immigration system and the higher education sector."
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Impact of Brexit and tuition fee changes

The inquiry has been launched in the wake of data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) showing that international student numbers at UK universities have been affected not only by the uncertainty caused by Covid-19, but post-Brexit changes to tuition fees for European Union students.Ucas calculated that the number of EU students accepted on undergraduate degree courses was 56% lower this year than last, while the total of non-EU students – particularly from China – increased by 5%.

Areas for interest for the review

The government said the new review would look at areas such as:
  • the efficiency and effectiveness of the post-EU exit points-based immigration system for international students and staff
  • the sufficiency of provision for the mobility of short-term students, academic visitors and individuals undertaking permitted paid engagements
  • the extent and quality of communication and engagement between the Home Office and the higher education sector
  • the fitness for purpose of the Home Office’s licencing system for visa sponsorship, including compliance requirementsthe availability and usefulness to the higher education sector of guidance for study and work applications
  • the quality of service and consistency of information provided to participating higher education institutions by the Home Office’s Premium Customer Service schemes
  • the competitiveness of the UK’s immigration “offer” to international students and staff, including such considerations as: cost, ease of navigating the system, accessibility for dependents, and availability of post-study immigration routes.

How to respond to the review

A spokesman said the chief inspector wanted "to hear both what is working well and what could be improved".Details of the review and how submissions can be made are available at UK Government website.

Read more news and views from David Sapsted

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