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UK universities not unscathed in immigration crackdown

International students at UK universities will only be able to extend their studies at the same academic level if they can prove it relates to their previous field of study. They will also need to prove they have more savings than before.
August 13 2015
2 Min Read

With the recent news that further education colleges will be impacted by dramatic immigration changes, foreign nationals at UK universities will also be facing new hurdles this autumn.

Announced last month, the UK government has made a number of changes to the immigration rules, including scrapping all part-time work rights for non-EU students studying at publicly funded colleges.

“The speed and lack of warning I think has been quite unfair”

Home Secretary, Theresa May, has also implemented tighter rules for international students at universities starting with those who wish to extend their studies at the same academic level.

If the desired course does not move up a notch on the National Qualifications Framework, then students will be required to prove how it is related to their previous field of study.

Furthermore, universities will be required to confirm that this new course supports the student’s career aspirations.

Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, said that these new measures have been implemented in order to “reduce net migration and to tackle immigration abuse”, while ensuring the UK maintains “an excellent offer for students who wish to study at our world-class universities”.

Nichola Carter, of Carter Thomas Solicitors, said that the speed at which these changes are being introduced will almost certainly have an impact on the sector.

“The changes related to academic progression, [are] to some extent fairly complicated and require universities in particular to redesign potentially some of their processes,” she told The PIE News.

“The speed and lack of warning I think has been quite unfair.”

The government has also announced that beginning in November this year, students applying for Tier 4 status – the visa used for international students – will have to provide evidence of a higher amount of financial savings to cover their living costs than before.

Students need to prove they can support themselves financially for up to nine months, or for the duration of their study.

Currently, those studying outside London need to have a minimum of £820 per month. This will increase to £1,015 from November 12.

However, for students looking to go to inner London, the minimum amount required is currently £1,020 a month, which will rise to £1,265.

“Any increase in the salary threshold is going to make it even more difficult for students to move up into Tier 2”

Furthermore, the boundaries defining what area is considered London are being expanded.

This will include the University of London or institutions wholly or partly within the City of London and parts of Surrey, Essex and Hertfordshire.

The statement of changes in immigration rules explains that the amount required to cover living costs is set at the same level as English students with the maximum loan and grant.

It adds that the amount is being amended to “reflect the new rates for students starting courses from September 2015”.

In addition, the migration advisory committee has been asked to consider the impact of increasing the salary threshold for those applying for Tier 2 status – skilled graduate visa.

Currently, the minimum salary for Tier 2 (general) is £20,800.

“Any increase in the salary threshold is going to make it even more difficult for students to move up into Tier 2,” said Carter.

As more changes have been rolled out for international students, Carter believes that there may be more enforcement action by UKVI.

“In the case of many sponsors, they won’t be aware that they’re doing things that UKVI may in the future regard as a breach,” she said.

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