Monthly Archives: April 2011

Delayed in Starting my Course – a Problem with UK Immigration?

Hai,
I am Karamchand sudhir kumar (India) studying MA in Uk (Started on Sep 2010),Unfortunately I was advised to restart my course in Oct 2011 by my University assessment officer due to my ill health.After that I returned back to India for my medical treatment.

Now I wish to restart my course and planning to go back Uk in month July for further works about fees,but I
am in a bit worry about the Immigration in Uk.Will there be any problem with Immigration because of there is
long gap from Jan to July and my Visa is valid up to Feb 2012. Will the Immigration officer allow me enter into
Uk ?If they ask any questions then what should I reply..I will carry required medical proofs for my ill health.
Kindly I request your information for my query.
Thank you,
Karamchand sudhir kumar

This post was submitted by Sudhir.

College Suspended Whilst Extension Pending

hi,

I will be more than greatful if you reply my question as soon as possible.
I am enrolled in Victoria College Nottingham.

When I sent my visa for extention my college was highly trusted. While my application is in process the college has been suspended.

What should I do right now, as I fear my visa will be rejected on the current status of my college?

Q)Should I get admission in a highly trusted college?

Q)Is there any legal way that I can get my fees refund as I think the college will not refund it easily?

Q)Can the college take any action against me and spoil my case at home office?

anxiously waiting for your reply!!
sazash

This post was submitted by sazash.

Enquiry regarding English Proficieny Test

I am Anuj Kumar and I am an MBA student at Ethames Graduate School, London. My visa is expiring on 31st May 2011. I have a few doubts about the new rules which came in to application from 21st April 2011. My programme is NQF 7 programme. I have completed all the papers and got the results as PASS from the accredited University. Currently I am working on my Dissertation which I am supposed to submit on 31st May’11.

My first and the foremost concern is the English Language Proficiency Test. Do students need to sit for IELTS or PTE if they are applying for the student extension after 21st April 2011?. I have my CAS issued on 18th April 2011. On my CAS , college has mentioned the evidence of English at B1 Level. My college is rated as A sponsor.

I am concerned about this because, my college is saying that I need to take the English Proficiency test,however, I called up UK Council for International Student Affairs and they informed me that If my CAS is issued before 21st April 2011 then I need not to sit for English Proficiency Test even if I am applying for student extension after 21st April 2011. I need the clarification on that whether students need to sit for English test in case they have CAS issued before 21st April’2011?.

UKCISA people were not able to give me anything in black and white to show it to my college. I am very much baffled because of two different pieces of information.

I request you to kindly assist me in getting the answer of this baffling query, I would be really grateful to you as I really want to concentrate on the dissertation right now to keep on my great academic performance at college and University level.

Thanks and Regards
Anuj.

This post was submitted by Anuj.

Part 1: Making the UK Unattractive

Letter to Stephen Gilbert MP on Student Visas from LSE Students’ Union. Part 1 of 3: Making the UK Unattractive

Dear Mr Gilbert

Thank you for the productive meeting this afternoon. The purpose of this memo is to provide you with written documentation of the outstanding problems students identify in the Government’s proposed immigration and student visa changes.

I represent perhaps the UK’s most international research university student body: 80% of postgraduate students at the LSE are from outside Britain. As an LSE alumnus yourself, I know you understand that the proposed immigration policy poses a tremendous threat to the character and quality of education at the globally-renowned LSE.

Moving forward, I would be delighted to draft a joint letter with you for a meeting with Tom Brake MP, Co-Chair of the Committee on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities. That meeting is still to be scheduled.

1. Policy disincentives abound to detract high-quality international students

If the details of the immigration bill are parsed, it becomes clear the proposed changes will put off international students from applying and attending British universities.

A. The end of Post-Study Work visas has a universal negative effect on the UK’s appeal

Losing PSW will have an enormous effect. Instead of providing a promise to students who earn their degree that they will be able to work in the UK, the promise is substituted with a risk: namely, if you come to the UK to study and earn your degree, you’ll need a £24,000 job lined up before you’re done. Even then, you’ll only get to stay a year—if you want more time, the job must pay an unheard-of for early professionals £40,000. LSE has gathered substantial evidence that students may simply no longer apply, and not only from countries where the British exchange rate coupled with international tuition fees is especially onerous.

Without the two-year unrestricted post-study work guarantee, the risk of attending university in the UK is much greater than anticipated gains. Hardly any jobs offer the income jump required to stay after just one year. A one-year of professional experience in the UK is neither enough to make a significant imprint on a CV nor repay the cost of tuition, frequently in the range of £30,000 total.

B. 5-year study limit restricts ‘the best and the brightest’

The 5-year study limit at sub-doctoral level is poorly conceived and will push away some of ‘the best and the brightest’ the policy aims to retain. To provide just two examples: (1) Students who study foreign language stay on their undergraduate course for 4 years, and often desire 2-year masters’ degrees. These students—whose capacity for global diplomacy and trade is enhanced by their multilingualism—will not be able to follow their desired sub-doctoral (perhaps leading to doctoral) courses in the UK. (2) Architecture, medicine, and other degrees take upwards of 7 years. These students would also be incentivised to look elsewhere for their programme.

C. Cutting off undergraduate dependents cuts off cultures

The practice of some religions, including Islam, necessitates travel with family members or spouses. The proposal to cut the undergraduate dependent route is nothing short of a clear and xenophobic warning shot to students who may very well excel in studies but practice a different faith. For even non-religious mature students, the inability to bring a spouse or child for an undergraduate degree would surely be considered a deal-breaker. Lastly, human rights legislation at the International and EU levels on the right to family life may mean there is little unchallenged room for free manoeuvre in this category. Judicial challenges would be expensive for the government.

D. No transparent standard has been used to determine the high/low risk categories

The Government has already put in place a formal high/low risk bifurcation for countries. The UKBA is to consider this when scrutinizing visa applications. Objectively, this is discrimination, so the question remains: How will this list of countries be generated, and on what quantitative evidence is it based? And most importantly, it is going to solve the problem of visa abuse, or merely delay visas, frustrate both bureaucrats and applicants, and encourage prospective students to select a school under more liberal immigration regimes, like Australia or Ireland?

 

Part 2: Economic Effects

Part 3: Politically Driven

Part 2: Economic Effects

Letter to Stephen Gilbert MP on Student Visas from LSE Students’ Union. Part 2 of 3: Economic Effects

2. Negative net economic effect

In a Martin Rosenbaum BBC article of 14 April, it is disclosed that the Treasury—alongside free-market think tank Adam Smith—is dour on the effects of immigration cuts on the economy. The Treasury’s “broad argument is that cutting immigration of skilled workers would reduce the UK economy’s potential for growth. It also states that migrants tend to make a positive contribution long-term to the UK’s fiscal position.”

Students currently contribute around £8 billion to the UK economy. That figure does not include the economic gains from students on a Post-Study Work visa, for which estimates are difficult to come by but logic would dictate is somewhere in the hundreds of millions to low billions of pounds in stimulus, plus taxes. If no argument from Section 1 on the impact of this proposal passing seems compelling, let it be this: The UK will be perceived as anti-student migrant, and the result will be a weaker UK economy.

Despite a gloomy speech from the Prime Minister on 14 April, qualified students do not come for a ‘free ride’. (That erroneous metaphor came from Mr Cameron’s misinterpretation of an airline’s free-flight advertisement while touring a British educational fair in India.)

To the contrary, students compete globally for scholarships, university places, and jobs afterward. Many do get jobs immediately afterward, though certainly not often with the possibility for £40,000 within a year. They pay high taxes and create new links for UK firms around the globe. This soft power helps grow the economy and direct investment to the United Kingdom, as opposed to other English-speaking nations.

A different way of looking at the problem comes from the academic world of economics. The UK, unlike most continental European counterparts, functions under liberal market capitalism. By closing off its internal market to migrants who not just shore up service sectors but also college students and graduates who fill professional roles (often quite low-paid), the UK is actively undermining its own neoliberal model. This is all to say nothing of the reality of ‘soft power’, from which Britain yields untold benefits as seeming accessible to ambitious, smart young people from across the world.

The negative publicity generated by the immigration debate is already affecting student recruitment. LSE has collected data showing that Indian and Chinese students—financiers, engineers, and workers Britain needs for economic success—are discouraging younger peers from applying because of the withdrawal of the Post-Study Work visa route. Students may go to Australia, Ireland, Canada, or the United States; or they may simply find a university elsewhere among rapidly improving local options.

 

Part 1: Making the UK Unattractive

Part 3: Politically Driven

Part 3: Politically Driven

Letter to Stephen Gilbert MP on Student Visas from LSE Students’ Union. Part 3 of 3: Politically Driven

3. Lack of consideration for Liberal Democrats’ views

The proposal at hand does not address the real challenge: Cracking down on bogus institutions that offer fake degrees in exchange for high fees and a student visa. It is, to the contrary, a blunt political instrument of the powerful anti-immigration wing of the Conservative Party.

Nicholas Watt’s Guardian piece of 14 April 2011 quotes a Liberal Democrat source as saying that “Nick [Clegg] and Vince [Cable] are very proud to have worked hard to get the policies where they are. The Tories wanted a student migration cap. That has not happened.”

Yet the reality is that if these restrictions are imposed, they will create the same effect—many fewer students coming to the UK. What matter is a ‘cap’ or not if the plan will dramatically cut students? Those students who do come will be more likely to exclusively pursue high-income careers like banking, or come from means that support the high international fees and limited acceptable work opportunities available under the new regime.

The stated Conservative goal is to “reduce immigration to the tens of thousands.” The Liberal Democrats favour an earned amnesty for illegal migrants who have lived in the UK for a decade. The manifestos of the parties—independent of each other—on the role of migrants in British society are clearly distant. The proposal on the table strikes a balance that, I hope to have shown, is far afield of Liberal Democrats’ views.

Despite the understood arrangement of Coalition, the immigration policy is surely a bridge too far. The result of the policy will be a Conservative one, but it is asking for Liberal Democrats’ votes to pass. It actively undermines an understanding of Britain as a nexus of high-quality education and a country dedicated to maintaining a global footprint.

Out of respect for your own party’s supposedly immutable values—free and successful markets that build a globally respected Britain—I would urge you and your Liberal Democrat colleagues to vote against the proposal at hand.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to your response and working together to create a smarter student visa policy.

 

Part 1: Making the UK Unattractive

Part 2: Economic Effects

The Big Brother World of UK Education Providers

Since April 2009 education providers in the UK have had to appear on the UK Border Agency’s Register of Sponsors in order to sponsor international students. One of the new rules imposed on education providers was to turn them into surveillance arms of the UK Border Agency, and many students have finally cracked now Britain’s surveillance society has infected their overseas education.

Last month a protest was held by the group Students Not Suspects outside offices of Goldsmiths College, University of London. Students Not Suspects are now vocally resisting the increased surveillance of international students, carried out by University staff at the orders of the UK Border Agency. More than 30 people took part in the demonstration, comprising of both staff and students.

As part of the major reform of the UK’s student visa system that is set to continue until April 2012 (and probably onwards ad infinitum), education providers that wanted to recruit international students became responsible for these students. By pain of death, well to the extent that a sponsor’s licence would be withdrawn and they would only be able to recruit students from within the EU (and who pay considerably less in fees, even at private education providers).

Colleges and schools became responsible for maintaining attendance and reporting any students who dropped below a prescribed level, immediately to the UK Border Agency. How this policy has been implemented by many educational providers leaves much to be desired. For instance, one provider sent emails to all their international students to their college-provided email account, which most students did not use. Many therefore did not pick up the email – requesting they present themselves and their passport to the Admin Office – inadvertently endangering their visa, enrolment on the course and right to remain in the UK.

It is exactly this concern – of wrongly reporting a student as AWOL – that worries Des Freedman, secretary of the University and College Union (UCU is the largest trade union and professional association for academics, lecturers, trainers, researchers and academic-related staff working in further and higher education throughout the UK). He is an active supporter of the Students Not Suspects group and he highlights the problem with a fantastic example from Goldsmiths College, London. In the first instance, management had prepared a list of 200 students to report to the UK Border Agency for curtailment of leave to remain in the UK. Following pressure for revision from Students Not Suspects, that list has been reduced to just 20 names. To date, no names have been passed to the UK Border Agency at all; one can immediately see the problem as Des sums it up: “…even one name handed to the authorities in error was one name too many”.

However, education providers find themselves in a situation far more complicated than that. The UK Coalition’s efforts to date have been a knee-jerk reaction to abuse of the student visa system. The introduction of the Highly Trusted Sponsor licence was done to crack down on bogus colleges and bogus students. Government’s plans do not stop there however, and there will be a new licence typed launched, the Highly Trusted Sponsor Plus, which will be reserved for the most UK Border Agency compliant education providers in the country. Sponsors are fearful that having such a licence will become increasingly necessary to recruit international students. And being UK Border Agency compliant means handing over lists of names.

The Students Not Suspects campaign has also been vocal in expressing the value of international students, to both domestic students and the wider UK as a whole. International students facilitate huge capital flows that reach right down to the local economy and provide a culturally diverse environment for domestic students to study in.

It seems that up-take for the campaign has been slow, but progress has been made. The concept was born at Goldsmiths College and has now linked up with like minded students at the London School of Economics. Here’s all the best to them in their mission to bring awareness to the outsourcing of UK Border Agency functions to the sponsors themselves.

New Student Visa Rules for the Future

Following our summary of the new student visa rules in place from 21 April 2011, we’ve had requests for a similar simple approach to the future Tier 4 student visa rules changes. So here it is!

July 2011 Onwards

Your Family (Dependants)

There will be only two types of student who will be able to bring their dependants to the UK during their studies: postgraduates and government sponsored students. Students must be studying a course of 12 months or more in duration.

Students should be sure to check with their education provider what duration of course has been entered on their CAS. Some Masters courses in the UK can be as short as nine months, so be sure to check if you want to bring your dependants with you.

If you qualify to bring your dependants with you during your studies, they will be able to work full time during their stay.

If you do not meet the requirements to bring your dependants all is not lost. You could consider having them come to the UK as visitors. But, there stay would be limited to just six months and they would not be able to work. They could of course come using any other route of the Points Based System, should they qualify.

Low Risk Students

Students from the following countries should not need to submit any financial documents or previous qualification certificates in support of their student visa application:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • British National Overseas
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Croatia
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States of America

Do remember though that it is a requirement to have access to the required maintenance money and that students from the above countries could still be asked to produce proof. Any documents that you could be asked to submit must meet the criteria laid out in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance documents.

Time Limit on Staying in the UK

Students will have new limits placed on the amount of time that can spent in the UK on back-to-back student visa.

The good news is that students of specialist courses that take longer to complete – Dphil, medicine, architecture etc – will be excluded from the limits.

Students studying at either postgraduate or undergraduate level will only be able to spend a maximum of five years in the UK.

Students following courses below undergraduate level will be able to stay for only three years.

There is concession made for students who will study a combined course of below and above undergraduate level study. These students will be able to remain in the UK for a maximum of eight years.

If students are following one of the exempt courses above, they are eligible to stay beyond the eight years if their course demands it, however, students will not be able to apply for a new Tier 4 visa if they have already been in the UK for more than eight years.

Academic Progression

Any student who is extending their student visa in the UK and will not be studying a new course at a higher level, their education provider will have to explain the situation in their CAS. A common example of this would be a student studying two consecutive Masters Programmes.

Students are advised to liaise with their education providers and/or agents to make sure the wording in the CAS properly explains the situation.

April 2012 Onwards

Closure of Post-Study Work Route

The current Tier 1 Post Study Work visa, allowing graduates to remain in the UK for two years following their studies to look for work, will be closed.

Post-Study Work will be replaced by a new class in Tier 2 of the UK’s Points Based System: the Work Permission Route. Graduates will now require a job offer from a UKBA registered sponsor with a minimum salary of £20,000 in order to remain in the UK following their studies.

Students must apply to switch to Tier 2 before their current Tier 4 General Student visa expires. Importantly, these Tier 2 applications will not come under the Coalition Government’s immigration cap, in any way.

Not Profiteering Insists Bristol University

In a move that left students angry and concerned in equal measure, Bristol University has announced its intention to charge the maximum £9,000 per year tutition fees.

 

The announcement to charge the maximum possible fees from 2012 came last Tuesday. The statement from Bristol University went on to explain that charging the maximum fee was the only way to subsitute money lost through the Coalition’s public spending cuts.

“Our calculations show that we would need to charge a fee in the region of £8,000 a year just to make up for the cuts in the core teaching grant and capital allocations.

“Our student support package will add a further £1,000 a year to this.

“Thus our decision to charge up to £9,000 per year does not represent a sudden or substantial increase in our funding; it merely substitutes lost revenue from other sources,” the statement continued.

Bristol University students are understandably concerned what impact the fee rise will have. Whilst there is some provision for students who come from poor background – and UK Universities will hopefully be held to account offer access – the minimum income level for the full fees to be payable is remarkably modest at £25,000 per year, total household income!

Whist it is true that any proposed increase in fees must be first approved by the Office for Fair Access it has already been found that nearly 50% of all UK Universities plan to charge the maximum fee for tuition, £9,000 per year.

Bristol University Students’ Union President James Ashton-Bell said the changes were “unfair”; “Many students struggle to pay for rent, bills and food in the face of VAT and inflation increases,” said a Students’ Union statement.

“Many of these students [from modest income brackets] already arrive at university to find their loans and grants don’t even cover their rental costs.”

New Rules for Student Visa Extension 2011

From 21 April 2011 there have been many changes to Tier 4 of the UK’s Points Based System. These changes do not just apply to out-country applications but also to people applying for a student visa renewal. We’ve put together this quick overview of the new student visa extension requirements following a lot of questions and searches from you.

New Student Visa Extension Rules for Students of Highly Trusted Sponsors

  • Courses at NQF level 3 or above
  • English language courses at level CEFR B2
  • Courses with work placements that form an assessed part of the course

New Student Visa Extension Rules for Students of A or B Rated Sponsors

  • Courses at NQF level 4 or above
  • English language courses at level CEFR B2
  • No courses with work placements that form an assessed part of the course below NQF level 6

New Rules for Student Visa Extension: English Language Ability

  • How your sponsor assesses your English language ability will now depend on:
  • When your CAS was assigned
  • What type of course you are studying
  • What type of education provider your sponsor is
  • At any time during your application, whether in-country or out-country, you may be called for interview to check your English ability. If your English level is clearly not up to standard, your application may be refused and/or you could be refused entry to the UK at the airport.

Student Visa Renewal: If your CAS was issued before 21 April 2011

  • The old rules apply for your CAS to be valid. That is, if you are studying a course below NQF level 6, or an English language programme, your CAS will be valid as long as your sponsor assessed your English language level to be CEFR B1.
  • Those students who did not take English test, but instead had their English level assessed by their sponsor will still be able to make an application with a CAS assigned before 21 April 2011.

Student Visa Renewal: If your CAS was issued on or after 21 April 2011

  • Have English at level CEFR B2 if studying a course at NQF level 6 and above
  • Have English at level CEFR B1 if studying a course at NQF level 5 or below

Student Visa Extensions with a Recognised Higher Education Institution

  • If studying a course at NQF level 6 or above at a Recognised Higher Education Institution:
  • Your sponsor can choose how to assess your English ability, including administering their own tests. Students will have to be assessed in the four skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
  • With the approval of the Academic Registrar of the education provider, “gifted students” can have the English level requirement waived entirely.

Student Visa Extensions with a non-Recognised Higher Education Institution

  • Students studying courses at NQF level 6 or above must demonstrate their English level in all four English skills at level CEFR B2 by presenting a Secure English Language Test certificate.
  • Students studying courses at NQF level 5 or below must demonstrate their English level in all four English skills at level CEFR B1 by presenting a Secure English Language Test certificate.