India lumped with Pak, Myanmar in UK student visa crackdown
Britain has announced further “tougher” admission rules for prospective non-Europeans students, taking away the power to decide on visas from universities and handing it to home office officers. Dipankar De Sarkar reports.world Updated: Dec 14, 2012 15:03 IST
Britain has announced further “tougher” admission rules for prospective non-Europeans students, taking away the power to decide on visas from universities and handing it to home office officers.
In countries where applicants have abused student visas in order to live and work in Britain, UK Border Agency staff will conduct face-to-face interviews.
Although home secretary Theresa May on Wednesday mentioned only Pakistan as a country with ‘high-risk’ applicants, the scheme follows a pilot conducted last year in Pakistan, India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, in which 2,300 prospective students were interviewed.
“From today, we will extend radically the border agency’s interviewing programme. Starting with the highest-risk countries, and focusing on the route to Britain that is widely abused, student visas, we will increase the number of interviews to considerably more than 100,000, starting next financial year,” May said.
Introduction of face-to-face interviews is a demand of the parliament’s home affairs select committee, chaired by Britain’s senior Asian lawmaker Keith Vaz. But the measure was attacked by the British Council, as well as students’ bodies.
“The UK’s universities and colleges themselves are the best judge of who is the right student for their institution, and they must be allowed to take responsibility for recruiting their own students,” said the British Council’s education director Jo Beall.
“By adding to the hurdles of applying to the UK, this measure risks putting off genuine students and making our competitor countries seem far more attractive.”
As a sop to critics who want the government to exclude overseas students from its immigration statistics, May said all PhD graduates and 1,000 MBA students will now have up to a year to find skilled work.