Damian Green today explained reforms the government is making to the student visa system to stop abuse and bring net migration down to sustainable levels.
These reforms include an announcement last month that the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) will inspect and review educational standards in private institutions which are offering further education.
Speaking at the QAA’s educational oversight conference, the minister said that it was the primary motivation of too many so-called students to come to the UK in order to work, rather than study, and that too many institutions were providing an immigration service rather than an educational one.
Legitimate students only
Mr Green said: ‘Abuse of the student visa system has gone on for too long. Students should come to the UK to study, not to work or settle. We want legitimate students only, to study at legitimate colleges and universities.
‘QAA has an excellent reputation protecting the standards of the UK higher education system and I am pleased they are providing their expertise to support our efforts to ensure only high quality institutions can sponsor students to come to the UK.’
Explaining that it was now only those institutions with the best track record that would be able to recruit and retain legitimate students, the minister went on to highlight other changes to the student route.
- students coming to study degree-level courses must be able to prove they can speak English at an upper intermediate level, and others studying below degree-level will have to speak English at an intermediate level
- students at universities and publicly funded further education colleges will retain current work rights but all other students will have no right to work
- there will be more rigorous checks to ensure that the funds students are using to support themselves are invested in – and available from – a trustworthy financial institution
- only postgraduate students at universities and government sponsored students to be will be able to bring their family members with them