Community, Diaspora and Immigration

Tough new rules for UK-bound students

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Foreign students will find it tougher to study and work in the United Kingdom from next year.

The UK government has introduced stricter entry rules aimed at limiting students’ stay and curbing illegal immigration.

The tougher entrance criteria also limits work entitlements.

Students will also find it harder to invite their dependants to the UK under the overhauled student visa system announced by Home Secretary Theresa May.

Last year, the UK issued 866 visas to Kenyan students in the “Tier 4 Category”.

More than 90 per cent of these were issued to students attending good quality universities and independent colleges, mainly at degree level or above.

The new system, said Ms May, is designed to ensure “students come for a limited period to study, not work, and make a positive contribution while they are here”.

She said the new rules will minimise abuse of the student immigration system.

“It has become very apparent that the old student visa regime failed to control immigration and to protect legitimate students from poor quality colleges,” she said.

Starting in April next year, all institutions wishing to send students to the UK will have to be “highly trusted sponsors”.
The current system does not have the sponsorship rule and allowed too many poor quality colleges to become sponsors, said Ms May.

“This will allow universities, independent schools and public sector further education colleges to prosper under a revised visa system.”

The rules require that students accepted must have a good standard of English.

Only students at universities and publicly-funded colleges will be allowed to work but “all other students will have no right to work”.

“We will place restrictions on work placements at courses outside of universities,” Ms May said.

Under the new rules, UK Border Agency staff will refuse entry to students who cannot speak English without an interpreter.

Only post-graduate students at universities and government-sponsored students will be able to bring in their dependants.

Currently, all students on longer courses are able to do so.

“We will limit the overall time that can be spent on a student visa to three years at lower levels and five years at higher levels,” she said.

At present there is no limit at or above degree level.

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