Monthly Archives: January 2011

Cardiff Students’ Union Response to Student Visa Consultation

Societies, Events and Activities Officer, Cosimo Montagu, has put together a Submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee, on behalf of the Students’ Union, in reply to the UK Border Agency’s (UKBA) Student Immigration System paper.

The purpose of the Submission is to highlight the importance of international students to Cardiff University, and put forward international students’ opinions on proposals that could affect them.

The proposed UKBA plans seek to cut down the number of international students who annually attend UK universities, in a bid to reduce the number of migrants in the UK.

Back in December of last year, the UKBA published a list of proposals that intend to reduce annual net migration by targeting the student population, which represents the largest proportion of net migration from outside Europe.

Notable proposals from the paper include the introduction of tougher entry criteria for international students, ensuring that international students return overseas after their studies and limiting their rights to work during term time.

In her foreword to the paper, Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, Theresa May, states: “It is clear that the government’s aim to reduce net migration will not be achieved without careful consideration and action on the non-economic routes including students.”

In response, CUSU has collated key information that shows how important international students are to Cardiff University.

Currently, Cardiff University represents a total of over 3,400 full-time international students.

The Submission notes how “it is estimated that upwards of £40million will be raised from international students in 2010/11” – an increase from the 2008/09 figures in which international students are said to have brought in over £29million to the University.

In addition, the Submission states how, in 2009, international students contributed £2.4million to the local economy – a figure that could decrease if international students are restricted to only work on university on campus during term time, as the UKBA paper proposes.

Currently, Cardiff University has over 2,200 international students studying on postgraduate courses, a number that is in danger of decline if the proposals are passed. The UKBA are seeking to make it a requirement that international students must return home and re-apply for a visa if they wish to undertake a Masters course or PhD.

In the Submission, a Malaysian undergraduate student notes how the proposed change could hinder their chance to further pursue their studies: “It may not be possible to get a visa in time for the next course.”

The UKBA paper also seeks to clamp down on students who are accompanied by their dependants.

As current law stands, students studying in the UK for more than six months can be accompanied by their dependants, however, the government wish to extend this to more than 12 months.

In response, the CUSU Submission recommends that the government do not raise the time needed to bring dependants into the UK.

Furthermore, it appeals for the visa extension period to take into consideration the application process for postgraduate courses.

The views from a Cardiff University spokesperson

How will the changes to the Student Immigration System affect Cardiff University if implemented?

At this stage it is difficult to know what the impact of any changes to the UKBA regulations will be on the University and we will need to await the outcome of the consultation and subsequent proposals.

How important are internatioanl students to Cardiff University?

International students play a key role in helping the University build international links and partnerships. A cap on numbers will restrict the University’s ability to recruit among the world’s most talented students and it will undermine the growing global reputation of Wales.

Do international students pose any potential costs for the University?

Any additional costs which may apply to some international students, such as administering and providing English Lanaguage support, are met by the international student fees or by additional fees for specialist courses.

The Coalition Government’s plans: Specific Proposals for Change

2 Specific proposals for change

2.1 Economic migration

The Coalition Agreement stated:

We will introduce an annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants admitted into the UK to live and work. We will consider jointly the mechanism for implementing the limit.

In July 2010 the Government introduced temporary limits on the number of highly skilled and skilled workers who could enter the UK under Tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system.

Following a public consultation, on 23 November 2010 the Government announced details of the annual limits on economic migration which are intended to come into effect from April 2011. Put briefly, the Government has decided to prioritise the entry of workers who already have a job offer over those that do not.  In consequence, the Tier 1 (General) visa, which enabled highly skilled migrants to enter the UK without a job offer, will be abolished.  The Government considers that this visa category has not succeeded in attracting highly skilled workers.  It has published research indicating that many Tier 1 migrants are unemployed or working in low-skilled occupations in the UK.

A new visa category will be established within Tier 1 for “people of exceptional talent.”  This is intended to cater for “scientists, academics and artists who have achieved international recognition, or are likely to do so.”  1,000 visas will be available annually in this category.

There will be no limit on the number of investor and entrepreneur visas available, and the Government intends to adopt new measures to encourage more of them to come to the UK.

20,700 visas will be available under Tier 2 (which is for skilled workers with an offer of employment).  Tier 2 will be restricted to ‘graduate-level’ jobs.  Intra-company transfers will be excluded from the annual limits, but will be subject to a minimum salary threshold of £24,000.  Only persons earning above £40,000 will be able to stay in the UK on an intra-company transfer for over 12 months.

2.2 Students

In her November 2010 speech on immigration the Home Secretary stated:

We will follow exactly the same principle as in the skilled work route – a more selective approach, which attracts the highly skilled, the talented and the genuinely needed, but reduces numbers overall by weeding out those who do not deserve to be allowed in.

The majority of non-EU migrants enter the UK as students. The Government has acknowledged that a reduction in student visas will be needed in order to reduce net migration levels.  It intends that in the future, the number of international students entering the UK will be broadly in line with the number leaving.  It will be emphasised that student visas are a form of temporary migration rather than a route to permanent residence. It is likely that the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa, which enabled foreign graduates from UK universities to remain in the UK after graduation to look for work, will be abolished.

The risk of abuse of student visas (e.g. by persons who primarily wish to live and work rather than study in the UK) is considered by the Government to be higher amongst persons entering to study low-level courses and at privately funded colleges.  The Government has questioned how beneficial these types of student migration are to the UK.

By being more selective about the criteria for entry as a student, the Government considers that it will be able to minimise abuse and reduce the overall number of student visas without damaging the UK’s interests.  Specific proposals for change were published in December 2010.  The suggestions include restricting the range of courses available to foreign students, limiting their entitlements to work and bring family members to the UK, restricting their  opportunities to extend their studies or ‘switch’ into a work immigration category after entry, and introducing stricter accreditation requirements for education providers.  These are generally building on similar reforms previously introduced by the Labour Government.

2.3 Family migration

In her November 2010 speech the Home Secretary confirmed:

As well as tackling abuse of the marriage route we need to ensure that those who come here can integrate successfully into society and play a part in their local community.

The Government is repealing the legislation underpinning the ‘certificate of approval’ scheme, which was introduced by the Labour Government in a bid to deter sham marriages but had been found by the courts to be unlawful. The Government has indicated that it intends to take other measures to address sham marriages and to tighten the rules for entry as the spouse of a person settled in the UK, although it has not yet published detailed proposals.  The Home Secretary has indicated that consideration is being given to extending the probationary period which foreign spouses must complete before being eligible to apply for permanent settlement in the UK beyond two years (as is currently the case). She has also raised the possibility of additional enquiries being made into the UK sponsor’s ability to meet the accommodation and maintenance requirements for spouse visas.

In November 2010 a new requirement was introduced into the Immigration Rules: that persons applying for leave to enter or remain as the spouse or partner of someone settled in the UK must demonstrate a basic command of English (speaking and listening), equivalent to level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for languages, by taking a test approved by the UKBA.  The Government considers that this will “protect the economic well-being of the UK, for example by encouraging integration and protecting public services.” The Labour Government had previously announced similar plans, scheduled to come into effect from summer 2011.

Part 1: Immigration and asylum policy: the Coalition Government’s plans

Part 2 of 3: The Coalition Government’s plans: Specific Proposals for Change

Part 3: The Coalition Government’s plans: Asylum and Illegal Immigration

The Coalition Government’s plans: Asylum and Illegal Immigration

2.4 Moving between temporary and permanent migration

The Home Secretary stated in November 2010:

Settling in Britain should be a cherished right, not an automatic add on to a temporary way in.

The Government considers that under the present system, it is “too easy” for migrants to move from temporary residence to permanent settlement in the UK.  Towards the end of its time in office, the Labour Government was also proposing measures to break the link between temporary and permanent immigration and to restrict migrants’ opportunities for settling in the UK, in particular through its ‘earned citizenship’ policy.  The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 made the legislative changes necessary for ‘earned citizenship’, however rather than implementing these changes, the Government intends to develop and consult on proposals of its own.  The Government indicated in November 2010 that it would consult on changing the route to settlement “in due course” but that in the meantime, with effect from April 2011, it would seek to introduce some interim changes to the current criteria for granting permanent settlement.  These are likely to include new requirements in relation to unspent criminal convictions, minimum salary criteria for economic migrants, and competence in English.

2.5 Asylum

The Coalition Agreement stated:

We will explore new ways to improve the current asylum system to speed up the processing of applications.

As part of an ‘Asylum Improvement Project’ launched in summer 2010, a range of pilot schemes for improving the speed, quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the asylum determination process are being tested, with a view to being implemented nationally where appropriate by December 2011.

Following a July 2010 Supreme Court decision, the UKBA has published guidance for its caseowners on how to assess asylum claims based on the applicants’ sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  This reflects a Coalition Agreement commitment not to enforce the removal of asylum seekers who would be at risk of persecution on account of their sexual orientation. .

Details of the Government’s plans to end child detention for immigration purposes (another commitment made in the Coalition Agreement) were announced on 16 December 2010.

2.6 Addressing illegal immigration

The Government confirmed its support for e-Borders and the reintroduction of exit checks in the Coalition Agreement.  e-Borders was launched under Labour with cross-party support.

The Coalition Agreement also committed the Government to establishing a dedicated Border Police Force, an idea which the Labour Government had previously rejected.  Some further details of the Government’s plans were set out in the Home Office consultation paper Policing in the 21st Century. The Government believes that establishing a Border Police Command, as part of a new National Crime Agency, will improve coordination of border control and security operations.

2.7 Promoting integration

In addition to the measures already introduced for foreign spouses, the Home Office intends to review English language requirements for other immigration categories (with a view to making them more demanding), in a bid to promote integration.

In summer 2010 the Department for Communities and Local Government confirmed that the Migration Impacts Fund, which provided funding for local community projects to manage the transitional impacts of immigration, would be terminated.

2.8 EU migration and cooperation with EU policymaking

EU migrants’ rights to enter and live in the UK are governed by European law rather than domestic legislation, so are unaffected by Government moves to reduce net immigration.  The Coalition Agreement stated that in the event of future EU enlargement, the Government would seek to impose transitional controls on new Member States’ freedom of movement rights.

In relation to EU cooperation on asylum and immigration matters, the Government has taken decisions to ‘opt-in’ to measures where it is deemed to be in the UK’s best interests to do so (as the Labour Government also did), but indicated that its preference is for measures which enhance “practical cooperation” between Member States rather than further legislation.

Part 1: Immigration and asylum policy: the Coalition Government’s plans

Part 2: The Coalition Government’s plans: Specific Proposals for Change

Part 3 of 3: The Coalition Government’s plans: Asylum and Illegal Immigration

Immigration and asylum policy: the Coalition Government’s plans

The Coalition Agreement committed the Government to introducing annual limits on non-EU economic migration.  These are due to come into effect from April 2011.  The Government intends to achieve an overall reduction in net migration levels over the course of this Parliament.  Consequently, all other immigration categories and routes to permanent settlement are also under review.

By minimising opportunities for abuse and being more selective about the criteria for entry, the Government believes that it will be able to reduce overall net migration levels, whilst simultaneously protecting the UK’s economic interests and attracting more of the ‘brightest and best’ migrants whose presence is deemed to be most beneficial to the UK.

This note briefly summarises recent Government statements about its intentions for immigration and asylum policy, and specific changes which it has already introduced.  Many of the Government’s proposals (particularly those aimed at minimising abuse) are in a similar vein to measures adopted by Labour in the run-up to the 2010 general election, though the proposed numerical limits for economic migrants and Border Police Force are notable differences.

This note focuses on objectives set by the Home Office and its Executive Agency, the UK Border Agency.  It should be noted that measures being proposed by other government departments (such as Ministry of Justice-led reforms to civil legal aid) will also have a direct effect on persons within the immigration and asylum system.

The Government’s plans: the big picture

The first indication of the Coalition Government’s thinking on immigration and asylum was in the May 2010 Coalition Agreement document:

The Government believes that immigration has enriched our culture and strengthened our economy, but that it must be controlled so that people have confidence in the system. We also recognise that to ensure cohesion and protect our public services, we need to introduce a cap on immigration and reduce the number of non EU immigrants.

The Coalition Agreement listed some particular actions which the Government intended to take in light of this objective (referred to in section 2 below).

Subsequent Ministerial speeches and statements have explained the Government’s policy rationale in greater detail.

In a speech made on 7 September 2010, Damian Green, the Minister for Immigration, signalled his intention to avoid pitfalls of immigration policy debates of the past.  He highlighted his desire to develop measures which are “smart” rather than simply “tough”, and influenced by evidence rather than “emotion and prejudice.”  Setting out the considerations which would inform future immigration policymaking, the Minister said:

The real question … is not how many, or where are they from. It is how can Britain benefit most from immigration? What controls do we need to maximise those benefits and minimise the strains? (…)

This balance is at the heart of this government’s approach to immigration. Britain benefits from immigration, and has always benefited from immigration, but it will only continue to do so if it is properly controlled. This means that the unsustainable levels of net migration seen in recent years must be brought down.

The Prime Minister has identified the sustainable level of immigration as an annual rate of net migration in the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands. (…) How do we get from where we are now to a position where we can continue to attract at least our fair share of the brightest and the best to study and work here, without putting unacceptable levels of pressure on our public services and the ability of our society to absorb change?

Drawing on Home Office research findings, which traced the path of persons who had previously entered the UK and those who had obtained permanent settlement, the Minister identified some of the “policy prescriptions” which the Government was considering.  In particular, he pointed to a need to apply “steady downward pressure on many routes to long-term immigration.”

This was reiterated in the Home Secretary’s speech on immigration, made on 5 November 2010.  Arguing that immigration under Labour had been “out of control”, the Home Secretary set out why the Government wanted to reduce net migration levels:

Between 1997 and 2009, net migration to Britain totalled more than 2.2 million people. That is more than twice the population of Birmingham. (…)

And public confidence has been undermined further by the individual stories of abuse of the system. (…)

While the right type of immigration can stimulate growth, badly managed migration has led to serious social impacts in some areas, with pressure being placed on key public services such as schools, the health service, transport, housing and welfare.

And it also led to many more difficult to quantify social impacts, like the segregation we see in too many of our communities. This created community tensions and helped contribute to a society that is not as integrated as we would like.

The Home Secretary repeated the Government’s pledge to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands, and argued that it was possible to do so without damaging the UK’s economic interests.  Theresa May said that by being more selective about the criteria for entry, “we can attract more of the brightest and the best at the same time as we reduce the overall number.”

Some more detailed proposals (referred to in section 2 below) were made in her oral statement on controlling migration on 23 November 2010.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA)’s budget is being reduced by up to 20 per cent over the next four years, and its headcount will fall by around 5,200.  It intends to make a greater use of technology and computer-based systems in order to improve its efficiency and productivity.

Part 1 of 3: Immigration and asylum policy: the Coalition Government’s plans

Part 2: The Coalition Government’s plans: Specific Proposals for Change

Part 3: The Coalition Government’s plans: Asylum and Illegal Immigration

18th annual Education UK Exhibition in Sri Lanka

Address by Tony Reilly, OBE Country Director British Council Sri Lanka

Janet Ford, Head UK Trade and Investment, British High Commission Sri Lanka, friends from the media, colleagues, good morning.

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for education and cultural relations. We have been in existence now for over 75 years and have been operating here in Sri Lanka for more than 60 years.

The purpose of the BC is to create international opportunities for, and trust between, the people of the UK and other countries worldwide. By creating international opportunities for people in the UK and around the world, we help meet their aspirations for a better life and a brighter future. And that is what today’s launch of the British Council’s Education UK Exhibition is all about – creating opportunities, meeting aspirations for a better life and building the next generation of lasting mutually beneficial ties between the UK and Sri Lanka.

Welcome to the official launch of the 18th annual British Council Education UK Exhibition – the largest UK education exhibition in Sri Lanka of its kind. Every year, more than 60 institutes come together at the exhibition to give students and their parents an opportunity to consider a wide range of study options in the UK and in Sri Lanka.

While demand for Higher Education continues to outstrip supply in Sri Lanka, many parents and students are compelled to consider overseas options.

Over 8,000 Sri Lankans leave the island every year to pursue their higher education in the UK. The UK remains the preferred destination of choice for Sri Lankan students – in spite of our inclement weather. The Education UK Exhibition offers prospective students the opportunity to directly interact with UK institutes and select the best study option from a wide range of courses and internationally recognised qualifications offered by UK institutes.

The importance of giving students an opportunity to live and study in the UK goes way beyond simple economic benefits. British Universities thrive on the internationalism of their campuses and classrooms. Overseas students enrich campus life and contribute in all sorts of tangible & intangible ways. Sri Lankan students are much sought after in the UK. Their ability to adapt to life in the UK quickly, their command of English and their excellent academic skills make them highly valued overseas students. From a British Council perspective, a period of study in the UK is often the start of a life-long relationship between our two countries – a relationship based on mutual understanding and we hope mutual respect. The UK benefits hugely from the presence of so many talented young Sri Lankans studying at its world class higher education institutions.

This year, 72 institutes will be taking part in the exhibition, out of which, 61 of the exhibitors will be travelling to Sri Lanka from the UK.

The overall format of the exhibition will be different to the usual exhibitor stall set-up. Besides the UK exhibitors providing information about the study options available, this year’s exhibition will also showcase different industries, such as fashion and design, aeronautical engineering and electronic engineering. We have included this additional segment for students to be better informed and aware about the wide range of subjects that they can opt to study at local institutes that offer UK qualifications.

We have also arranged for students to be able to meet representatives from the UK Border Agency (UKBA), IELTS, awarding bodies of UK qualification providers in Sri Lanka, and some of the successful UK-Sri Lanka educational partner institutions.

As an organisation committed to developing cultural relations between the UK and Sri Lanka, the British Council contributes to the development goals of Sri Lanka by exposing students to UK education. The Minister of Higher Education, Hon. Minister. S. B. Dissanayake strongly endorses the British Council’s objective in promoting UK education to students looking at overseas study options.

Since he could not make it today, I will read out a statement which he wanted me to share with you:

“Our vision is to build Sri Lanka as an Education Hub in Asia. While developing our existing Higher Education system, we have taken steps to invite leading Universities from the UK, US, Australia, India and many other countries to setup campuses in Sri Lanka. The proposed Quality Assurance and Accreditation Council will regulate both public and private Higher Education providers in the future. With these new opportunities, our students will have an increased number of seats and a wider selection of higher education options. Furthermore, this will also attract students from other countries in the region bringing foreign revenue to Sri Lanka. We warmly welcome the UK universities who will be present at the Education UK Exhibition organised by the British Council for the 18th consecutive year. We look forward to meeting with the UK university delegates and explore possibilities of developing partnerships with Sri Lanka. We thank the British Council for organising this event which is a great opportunity for some of our students to pursue their higher education in the UK.”

I hope that, as the minister envisions, we will be able to work together to achieve the goal of establishing Sri Lanka as an education hub in Asia in the near future.

I would like to thank you the members of the media for joining us today and I urge you to join us at the British Council in communicating the message of the importance of higher education for the bright future of your beautiful country – at peace.

A New Degree for the Current Climate – The Work Study BSc

KPMG has unveiled its new plan to secure the best talent from the UK – pay for undergraduate stars-of-the-future to go to university. They’ll even pay a salary too, under a scheme aptly titled “earn as you learn”.

The first of its kind in the UK, KPMG will cover the full cost of a BSc in accounting at Durham University. Successful students who take part in this work-study degree will be on a salary of at least £45,000 by their final year of university. Guaranteed.

Students will need to be focused though, as six years of study will be required in order to gain a professional accounting qualification in addition to their degree.

Why would KPMG, who one would think finds it easy to attract solid graduates to shape and mould, go to such generous lengths to effectively recruit staff at an earlier age? The scheme actually came about following a damning review of the “professions”, which found poor representation from the working classes. The programme was designed with the 200 schools in mind that have the highest proportions of students receiving free school meals.

KPMG hope other companies will follow their lead.

David Willetts, the minister for universities and science, added: “It’s the kind of initiative that we hope will flourish as we reform higher education.”

Rob Dixon, dean of Durham Business School, said the partnership would help the institution hit numerous targets, not only by improving diversity among the student body, but also in graduate employability and by creating links with employers.

“For us, this programme is perfect in achieving the broad employability agenda. It not only gives people the opportunity to work, but there is a structured programme of development both within the university and within KPMG,” he said.

Co-funding for degrees proved unpopular under the previous Labour government, but the increase in the tuition fee cap to £9,000 and its impact on the recruitment market could change behaviour.

Durham is talking with a major bank and an insurance firm about developing similar programmes, and KPMG has approached other universities about expanding its scheme.

In September, when the scheme is due to launch, KPMG will recruit a group of 75 sixth-form students who have achieved a minimum of an A and two Bs at A level.

In the first three years they will work primarily for the company, with some study time spent at Durham. In the fourth year, nine months will be spent studying full-time at the university, after which they will obtain a BSc. During the fifth and sixth years the employees will complete an additional chartered accountancy qualification through the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

All costs, including tuition, accommodation and travel, will be met by KPMG, which said it planned to increase the annual intake to 400 students over time.

Event Production Show to Target UK’s Emergent Knowledge Economy

The 2011 Event Production Show will give a distinct focus on the human capital and future talent of the live event sector.

Organisers of the show – taking place from 2nd – 3rd February at London Olympia – have confirmed that Thursday afternoon will be a focal point for those currently studying at British universities or abroad.

Seminars and speakers have been set-up in order to provide a dedicated thought leadership programme to students. From 3.15pm to 4.30pm the panel discussion ‘Events Degree: What Next’ will be presented by Simon Bell & David Dewhurst, UK Centre for Events Management, Leeds Met University and Owen Grainger-Jones, International Centre for Crowd Management and Security Studies, Buckinghamshire New University.

They will join a cast of the event industry’s serial thinkers in talks specific to those embarking on their careers in the live event sector.

Undergraduates will be invited to discuss career routes and opportunities with representatives of event industry suppliers exhibiting at the show. A major recruitment drive in the sector is expected through the UK’s Decade of Events featuring; 2012 London Olympics, Cultural Olympiad, Diamond Jubilee, 2014 Commonwealth Games, and the UK’s blossoming festival industry.

Other thought leaders in the event sector over the course of the show will include Wayne Hemmingway, Bernard Doherty, Harvey Goldsmith and Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feasts.

Sarah Brownlee, Event Production Show organiser commented: “We are making a pledge of support for the UK’s emergent knowledge economy which should serve as a timely boost to the students in the wake of the recent tuition fees debate. Allocating a dedicated afternoon to our student visitor base will ensure nobody from experienced event organisers to our industry’s budding talent misses out.”

This post was submitted by Richard Garside.

UK Education Providers may have no choice but to focus on off-shore

With the Coalition planning to shake-up the UK student visa system, many universities and colleges fear the worst. With reliance on international students and against a back-drop of harsh government funding cuts, many education providers have considered offering their services overseas.

Legal firm Eversheds recently conducted a survey of UK colleges and universities finding that more than 90% of respondents believed that increased links with overseas partners is likely. Further, 30% were considering opening campuses outside the UK.

Whilst no one argues with the need to clamp down on bogus colleges and students, over-restricting student migration could well damage an industry that contributed more than £42 million in 2008/9 to the UK economy. Whilst the changes will impact on the whole of the education sector, it is tertiary education and the reputation of UK universities which is of most concern.

The proposals currently being considered by the Coalition included restricting courses below degree level, raising the minimum English language proficiency level and limiting the rights of students to work. With Tier 1 – the post study work route – now closed from overseas applicants and due to close to UK applicants in April 2011, Universities are feeling the pressure. The ability to work after graduating is a big motivating factor for international students, especially those from India, which is a huge market for UK education providers.

So, if the Coalition’s plans go ahead and there is a serious squeeze on student numbers in the UK, education providers will have to react to survive? How well all universities and colleges will be able to adapt is worrying, given the wider recession and problems raising capital.

The danger then is that the crackdown on student numbers and efforts to reduce net migration will harm the UK as a whole.

The danger is that by attempting to crack down on “bogus” colleges and achieve a blanket reduction in net migration overall, the Government is proposing changes with far-reaching implications, not only for the education sector but the country as a whole.

The Coalition’s proposals for change to the visa system are numerous and include:

  • Barring courses below degree level to Highly Trusted Sponsors only.
  • Raising entry standards for adult students: raising the level of English language ability required and requiring students to pass a secure independent test to verify their level.
  • Ensuring students return upon completion of their course – anyone intending to study further would need proof of academic progress and apply for a new visa outside the UK.
  • Limiting work – it is proposed that students will only be allowed to work on campus during the week and for an external employer at weekends and during holidays.
  • Limiting dependents – only those students studying courses of 12 months or more will be able to bring their dependents. Consideration given to preventing work altogether.
  • Stricter accreditation procedures for education providers in the private sector.
  • Closure of the Tier 1 post-study work visa category.

Assuming the above proposals are all implemented by the Coalition Government, what immediate action will be taken by education providers? Most, it is thought, will apply to become Highly Trusted. Sadly, many will consider off-shoring their operations, depriving the UK economy of vital tax revenue and removing student spending from the economy too.

Given Eversheds’ survey evidence of the extent to which colleges are considering setting up campuses overseas and the overwhelming drive for increased collaboration with foreign colleges, what should be done to support them? The Government could provide further help to colleges wanting to develop such an export-led approach through pump-priming schemes following the various Prime Ministers’ Initiatives.

Other options could include using the student short-term visitor rules. Colleges could follow the example of many universities in offering summer schools to international students.

In any event colleges must urgently consider their response to this very significant development.

IELTS Scholarship Programme Extended by The British Council

2010 saw the start of The British Council’s International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scholarship programme which was such a success that is has been expanded for 2011. There will now be more than 60 scholarships available in ten different countries across Asia.

The scholarship programme is well balanced in that it awards scholarships to both students who intend to study abroad and at home. In Vietnam for example, there will be 13 scholarships for students planning to study overseas and a further ten for those intending to continue their studies in Vietnam. The scholarships are aimed at students from all walks of education, from high school to postgraduates.

Vietnam has also been given the opportunity to award one lucky students a very substantial scholarships of VND 100 million (roughly £3,200) in recognition of Vietnam entering the top 10 providers of students to the US.

In order that the scholarships remain transparent and to ensure that the funds will be used appropriately, the money will be given to the winning student’s future education provider, as a contribution towards fees and expenses.

The range of courses available to students who want a chance to win a scholarship is broad: any education provider which uses IELTS in its admission process.

For more information about the IELTS scholarship programme and an application pack please see www.britishcouncil.org/vietnam

Good luck to all that apply and happy studies.

Social Media no Help to Job Hunters

Whilst 70% of students have made use of popular social media websites to help in their job search, only 20% have actually found them to be of any use.

A UK-wide survey of students and graduates was carried out by a student jobs website. They asked 177 people a range of questions pertaining to job hunting. 143 people responded that social media was of no help whatsoever.

No doubt there it is a challenging job market for students and with the wide-spread use of social media within the student community already, it seems logical to extend its use to job hunting. One would have thought it an ideal way for a candidate to advertise themselves to potential employers. Many respondents reported to feel that they simply wasted their time.

Timothy Mukasa, who commissioned the research said, “The results came as a total surprise. There is a lot of press about the usefulness of social media for job hunting, however the evidence here appears to be contradictory. We would advise students not to dismiss, or totally rely on, social media, but to see it as an additional string to the job hunting bow”.

It was found in the survey that students got the most use from job board websites when doing their job search online. The old-fashioned way of networking and referrals came in second with 32% of respondents finding that to be most effective.