Britain will follow up its new stringent scan of foreign students taking up courses in the country with a “highly trusted sponsor programme” to be unveiled on April 6.
The government has decided to trim down the list of its education providers who can offer undergraduate and vocational courses.
“We want foreign students to come to the UK to study, not to work illegally. We have set out necessary steps, which will maintain the robustness of the system we introduced last year. I make no apologies for that,” UK Home Secretary Alan Johnson said.
Johnson said only highly trusted sponsors would be able to deliver undergraduate and work placement courses below degree level under Tier 4 of the points based system. The foreign students shall work off campus as part of the curriculum under 'work placement courses'.
He said details of proposed programmes would be developed with the education sector by March. The UK government will rate as 'highly trusted sponsors' education providers who have a proven track record of its students not having abused or violated any visa norms in the past.
“The government will also develop with partners a mandatory English language test for students coming for below degree level study, which will demonstrate English language proficiency to the required standard and be officially approved by the UK Border Agency. The aim is to implement this by early summer,” added Johnson.
Students who wish to learn English and are at the beginner's level will still be able to come to the UK to study for a maximum of six months under the student visitor route (not Tier 4).
Student visitors will be able to study English language at levels below B1 (just below a GCSE qualification), with an education provider that is accredited by a UK Border Agency-approved accreditation body.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown had announced review of Tier 4 student visas three months back. The review looked at the potential impact of raising the minimum level of study an adult may undertake in the UK, introducing English language test for those coming to the UK to study below degree level, restricting access to vocational courses (courses with work placements) and the work entitlements of students.
Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, Pat McFadden, said: “Genuine international students make significant contribution to the academic and cultural life of the universities and colleges where they study and bring over £ 5.3 billion to our economy each year. But where there is abuse, it undermines the position of genuine students as much as anyone else.”