The University of Cambridge has welcomed the UK Home Office’s decision to introduce a Tier 4 pilot visa scheme. According to Graham Virgo, pro-vice-chancellor for education at the University of Cambridge, a pilot scheme to streamline the international student visa process could benefit Indian students applying for a master’s course at the varsity.
As many as 150 Indian postgraduates are currently studying at Cambridge, which is one of only four higher education institutions in the UK to run trials of the new Tier 4 visa application pilot, which simplifies the visa process and extends post-study leave from two to six months.
Under the Home Office pilot launched in July, students applying for their visa will be required to submit fewer documents alongside their visa applications.
Applications from Indian students to University of Cambridge master’s courses have been steadily rising since 2013. Between 2013-14 and 2015-16, there was a 4.2% rise in applications from Indian students applying for a postgraduate course at the varsity. There was a 13.67% rise between 2014-15 and 2015-16 in offers to Indian nationals applying for postgraduate course at the university. The two-year trial will apply for 2016-17 and 2017-18 entries, with the Home Office likely to publish its evaluation of the pilot in 2019. All overseas applicants to Cambridge applying for a visa to undertake a master’s course of 13 months or less will automatically be considered under the scheme.
Students will not be required to submit financial documents or their previous academic qualifications when applying for their visa. They will, however, be subject to immigration rules and undergo Home Office security and identity checks. The extension to students’ post-study leave means students who enrol on master’s courses at Cambridge will have more time to find work after graduating, or to pursue further studies in the UK.
Anthony Dangerfield, head of Cambridge’s International Student Team, says, “Those eligible under the pilot will have access to a streamlined visa application process and the additional time granted on the visa will be in helpful in supporting students to take full advantage of work opportunities in the UK after completion of studies.
We are sure that prospective students from India will recognise the benefits of the additional six-months on their visa after completing a University of Cambridge master’s course. This will enable them to pursue work opportunities, facilitate a switch to a work or entrepreneur visa or undertake further study.”
After a two-year trial of the scheme, the Home Office Science (Migration and Border Analysis) will carry out an independent evaluation, examining management information and data from the participating universities. The evaluation will test the aims of the pilot and will report interim findings with a final report in the spring of 2019.