Foreign Students Using University Courses for Cheap Visa - UK

UK Home Secretary, James Cleverly
UK Home Secretary, James CleverlyGoogle

The United Kingdom Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has suggested that international students might be undermining the integrity and quality of the UK higher education system by utilizing university courses as a cost-effective means to obtain work visas.

Cleverly made this known in a letter written to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), while demanding visa review over concern that courses are being used as shortcuts to gain work permits.

The Guardian UK reported that Cleverly urged the agency to look into whether the graduate visa entitlement, which enables international students to work for two or three years post-graduation, was not attracting the brightest individuals to the UK.

However, university leaders are worried that reducing or limiting the graduate visa pathway will cause a sharp drop in international recruitment and potentially spark a financial crisis for universities that depend on income from international tuition fees.

The Home Secretary informed the MAC that although the government was dedicated to attracting talented students from all over the world to study in the UK, it also aimed to prevent the abuse of the graduate route.

Cleverly stated that an international student can spend relatively little on fees for a one-year course and access two years with no job requirement on the graduate route, followed by four years’ access to a discounted salary threshold on the skilled worker route.

He then instructed the committee to investigate any evidence of abuse of the graduate route, including its fitness for purpose, and to identify universities producing graduates who used the route.

He also requested the MAC to assess if the graduate route is compromising the integrity and quality of the UK higher education system, effectively monitoring the quality of international students, so that it truly aids the UK in attracting and retaining the most talented individuals, thereby fostering economic growth and enhancing British higher education.

Meanwhile, Rachel Hewitt, the chief executive of the MillionPlus group of universities, expressed concerns that the government’s review was specifically targeting the success of British higher education.

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