At the end of last year, Rebecca Finkel and I wrote to Theresa May re her plans to place further restrictions on international students – letter here I didn’t get a response at all – however, this came via Yvette Cooper (Shadow Home Sec). ‘Enjoy’

Dr Katherine Sang

Reference: T369/15

Dear Dr Sang,

Thank you for your e-mail of 05/01/2015 16:20:11 about student visa policy.

It is important to make clear that international students are greatly valued by this Government. It is recognised that they make an important contribution to the UK during their time here, and to making our education system one of the best in the world. We have an excellent offer for international students, and as a result we remain the second most popular destination in the world for international higher education students. We want to continue to attract the brightest and the best.

There is no limit on the number of students who can come to the UK, as long as they can speak English, can support themselves and have a place at a genuine institution. This Government takes every opportunity to emphasise the message that genuine international students are welcome here. Indeed the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have done so on their visits to India, and the Minister for Immigration and Security also made this clear when he visited China.

Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data for the academic year 2013/14 shows that we have seen a 6% increase (to 165,515) of full time non-EU new entrants to UK Higher Education Providers in the year ending September 2014. Postgraduate research and taught increased by 9% (to 11,030) and 5% (to 90,880) respectively. UK and EU new entrants both increased by just 2% (+15,780 and +1,070 students respectively).

Making sure that immigrants leave the UK at the end of their visa is just as important a part of running a fair and efficient immigration system as controlling who comes here in the first place. The Office of National Statistics estimates that, in the year to June 2014, 121,000 non-EU students entered the UK, but only 51,000 left – a difference of 70,000. This is partly because students are able to extend their Tier 4 visa or switch into another immigration route in-country, and so remain in the UK.  Therefore student emigration or the lack of it is a key driver of overall net migration.

However, we continue to have excellent post-study options, which attract the brightest and the best. There is plenty of scope for students to pursue employment in the UK after completing their studies. Students can apply for a graduate-level job with a graduate salary at a company that has a Tier 2 licence. These students do not count towards the annual Tier 2 limit of 20,700 places, and they do not have to wait for a resident labour market test to be conducted by the employer. That is not all. We have set up a scheme for Graduate Entrepreneurs and doubled the number of places on it to 2,000, as well as creating a new visa for graduates wishing to undertake a corporate internship, or professional training related to their degree. We also allow all completing PhD students to stay in the UK for an additional year to work, gain experience in their chosen field, or set up as an entrepreneur.

Yours sincerely

 [name redacted]

Student Migration Policy


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