Foreign students seeking to enter the UK from countries such as India, Pakistan and China could be singled out for extra scrutiny by border officials if the Conservatives come to power after the next general elections.
Under the immigration policies formulated by the Tories, many overseas students could also be asked to pay cash deposits worth thousands of pounds, to be returned only when they left the country, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.
Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling, who described the present student regime as a "huge loophole in our border controls", has decided not to pursue stricter measures such as shutting the door to courses below degree level or demanding higher standards of English among applicants.
The report said the under the plans, students seeking to enter the UK from countries such as India, Pakistan, Nigeria and China could be singled out for extra scrutiny.
The problems with student visas have risen to the top of the Westminster agenda after a Nigerian man allegedly attempted to blow up a passenger jet headed for Detroit on Christmas day, the paper said. The 23-year-old suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, studied mechanical engineering at the University College, London between 2005 and 2008.
Universities and English language schools have been lobbying politicians not to go too far in blocking overseas students because it would threaten a vital part of their fee-raising capacity, the report said.