Foreign students to face stricter English test in Britain

  • IANS, London
  • |
  • Updated: Feb 07, 2010 18:57 IST

Foreign students from India and other countries outside the European region who want to study in Britain will have to sit for a stricter English-language test and will be banned from bringing over dependents if they are studying short courses, the government announced on Sunday.

British Home Minister Alan Johnson said the rules, which will be in force with immediate effect, will also restrict the number of hours foreign students can work in Britain.

The English language test will be upgraded from the current beginners' English to the intermediate level, the equivalent of a British GCSE foreign language qualification.

Students coming to Britain for courses that are under six months in duration will not be allowed to bring in any dependents.

Those studying courses that are over six months in duration but not a three-year higher education degree course, can bring in dependents but the dependents will not be allowed to work.

In addition, the number of hours a foreign student is allowed to work in Britain is being cut down from the current 20 hours a week.

However, the government has decided not to implement a proposal to have students furnish a fixed bond - a returnable deposit - saying it is unworkable.

"Deposits won't work, because you have to have a whole system of bureaucracy to ensure it works properly. Many of these students, if they are coming here for illegal migration, will pay thousands of pounds. It is usually the criminal gangs who organise these," Johnson told the BBC.

He said the new rules are aimed at stopping 'bogus students' - adults - who have been abusing the student visa system.

"There's an awful lot more of adults - not young people, not coming to study degrees at universities, but coming on short courses," the minister said.

Student visas constitute 30 per cent of all visas granted by the British government and Johnson said the government is keen not to damage Britain's appeal as the world's second most popular destination for higher education - a sector that brings in five to eight billion pounds a year.


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