Licence Scheme For Foreign Students

Licence scheme for foreign students

The Press Association
October 30, 2008

Universities and colleges will need a licence to enrol foreign students as part of plans to clamp down on illegal migration, the Home Office said.

Students from outside Europe will require sponsorship from licensed institutions before they can enter the country.

The measures will come in to effect in March with licences given out by the UK Border Agency. Ministers hope they will cut the number of bogus colleges set up to allow foreigners to live and work in the UK.

From March students will also have to prove they have the money and qualifications to take their course under the new points-based system.

Immigration minister Phil Woolas said: “International students contribute 2.5bn to the UK economy in tuition fees alone. The student tier of the points system means Britain can continue to recruit good students from outside Europe.

“Those who come to Britain must play by the rules and benefit the country. This new route for students will ensure we know exactly who is coming here to study and stamp out the bogus colleges which facilitate lawbreakers.”

Universities warned the information was being released too late to be included in this year's prospectus. Diana Warwick, chief executive of Universities UK said she was “very concerned” about Home Office IT system that will run with the new system.

She said: “We remain very concerned about the IT system that will support the new arrangements. Sufficient time needs to be allowed to enable universities to provide input to the IT specification and for testing to take place, both in the UK and overseas.

“Students have a short period of time in which to make their visa applications and if the IT system does not work during this window, students will miss the start of their programmes and may decide not to come to the UK.”

The Liberal Democrats said the system wouldn't work unless students were counted on their way out of the country. Home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: “Without exit checks it is impossible to know who was here, who should be here or who actually is here. Unless they are reintroduced, any changes to the immigration system will be purely cosmetic.”