Controls 'affecting foreign pupils'
Tuesday June 2 2009
Tighter border controls introduced to fight terrorism and illegal immigration are stopping foreign pupils attending private schools in the UK, the head of the Independent Schools Council (ISC) is set to announce.
David Lyscom is expected to tell delegates at the organisation's annual conference in London the recession has not affected school numbers.
He will say: “The greatest threat (to the independent school sector) is probably not economic, but legislative.”
He is expected to add: “Regulation, inspection and monitoring are essential to protect children and guarantee standards. But the burden needs to be simplified and, where risks are low, reduced.
“A classic example is the new visa regime. Its main aims are to keep potential terrorists and illegal workers out of the UK. Its main effect for us is to make it very difficult for Chinese children to come to our schools. This cannot be right. The message for our politicians is that regulation must be focused and proportionate.”
He will announce figures showing pupil numbers in the 1,265 schools represented by the ISC were up by 3,000 in the last year.
“Even where parents are being squeezed, evidence suggests that school fees are one of the last areas where parents will cut expenditure,” he will add.
“Unlike holidays, cars and flat screen TVs, educating one's children is not seen as discretionary expenditure.”
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “The student tier of the points based system ensures that all foreign students – and the institutions bringing them over – play by the rules.
“The system is designed to prevent dodgy students and institutions from operating and so protect Britain. The rules are firm but fair – and they apply to everyone.”