Category Archives: UK Immigration News 2011

Suspended Colleges and the Rights of Students

In the past year alone, 450 UK education providers have has their trusted sponsor licence revoked, impacting some 11,000 international students. There has been plenty of coverage in the media about immigration abuses and bogus colleges; what is being forgotten is the real victims – students.

Students are currently being let down by a poor immigration system that offers no protection, ties their permission to remain to their college’s actions and provides no safeguards against what can only be called scammers: those who are happy to take large payments of fees before declaring bankruptcy.

The requirements to be licenced by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to issue Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) documents include no academic or financial criteria. There is simply no scrutiny in the most important areas leaving students with few safeguards. Instead the UKBA busies itself with assessing human resource management systems, and any convictions, civil-penalties or non-compliance of either college or staff.

Sadly, the stories of students of colleges who’ve lost their licence are becoming frequent and follow a similar pattern. Pay substantial fees and enrol with a college only to be told that their leave to remain has been curtailed, they have to pay even more money and try to find another college who will accept them. In all likelihood they could have to begin their students again. Another visa application and fee. All in 60 days. Given the new visa application, students will have to meet the 3 months of bank statements requirement too – there is little wriggle room to plan and react when a student learns that their college’s licence has been revoked.

The JCWI and a group called Pupils’ Rights held a public meeting on 28 November, which we’ve summarised below and put a link to the original video.

Individuals

  • Under the old rules, education providers had to be listed on a register maintained by the Department of Immigration, not UKBA as it is today.
  • Previously if your visa was refused on the grounds that your college was not bone fide, you could appeal the refusal and challenge the decision that your education provider was not legitimate.
  • In 2006 the Points Based System (PBS) was introduced. In March 2009, Tier 4 went live and came into force for international students.
  • Legal Challenges: In two cases – notably Pankina (2009) – the Court agreed that subjecting students to new rules in Home Office guidance documents – which could be changed at any time – instead of being entered into the Immigration Rules following Parliamentary scrutiny, was unlawful. Both cases succeeded at the Court of Appeal. The Home Office has however applied for and been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. The PBS clearly has legal issues at its core and these will be decided by the highest UK Court. They could even be taken to Europe, clearly demonstrating the scope of the problems.

Colleges

  • A case was heard early November in the Court of Appeal, involving a college who was to have their sponsor licence revoked by the Home Office. The college’s legal team have been able to obtain an interim order stop this action and only allowing a decision on the college’s licence following the case.
  • The college had believed to have done everything contained in the Sponsor Guidance Document and was in regular contact with the Home Office over licencing requirements. However, it was deemed they did not comply with something in the guidance and their licence was to be revoked.
  • What is quite clear is that in this case, the withdrawal of the college’s licence had nothing to do with students or immigration. The college has been punished for administrative failures.
  • There are definitely instances where bogus colleges have been closed using this method, but how many innocent parties have been caught up?
  • The Court was asked to look at the most fundamental element of the PBS – the notion of sponsorship. Again, it is published Home Office guidance which sets out when an education provider’s sponsor licence can be revoked, not the Immigration Rules. What the Immigration Rules do say is that if a college loses its licence a student’s leave will be curtailed. The Immigration Rules also say that in order to apply under the student category, the college must have a Tier 4 sponsor licence. Therefore, having a sponsor licence is a condition that the students must meet for leave to remain / enter.  How can this be lawful in light on the Pankina judgement?
  • Colleges have no right of appeal if their licence is withdrawn. The only option they have is for an expensive Judicial Review.
  • As with individuals, cases such as this are likely to go to Europe as the UKBA suddenly finds itself with powers to control businesses, institutions and their staff instead of just visa nationals, which should be their only concern.

The Video

Edward Nicholson, Barrister for No5 Chambers, talks about his experience and impressions on the rules affecting students and colleges who have their visa granting status revoked.

 

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.

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.

Cameron on Immigration – We’re Getting to Grips With It

British Prime Minister David Cameron declared, “…we’re now getting to grips with it” in his immigration speech in Hampshire on 14 April. A crackdown on the widespread abuse was promised with a particular focus on bogus students and dodgy colleges.

The Prime Minister talked about abuse of the student route which he cited as the most popular of all non-EU immigration into the UK. “Immigration by students has almost trebled in the past decade. Last year, some 303,000 visas were issued overseas for study in the UK. But this isn’t the end of the story. Because a lot of those students bring people with them to this country: husbands, wives, children…we know that some of these student applications are bogus, and in turn their dependents are bogus. Consider this: a sample of 231 visa applications for the dependents of students found that only twenty-five percent of them were genuine dependents. The whole system [is] out of control and we’re now getting to grips with it. That badly needs to be done”, he said.

UK educational providers that sell places on fake courses in order to secure entry clearance – so called bogus colleges – are firmly in the Government’s sights. Cameron went on to say, “We’re making sure that anyone studying a degree-level course has a proper grasp of the English language. We’re saying that only postgraduate students can bring dependents. And we’re making sure that if people come over here to study, they should be studying rather than working, and that when they’ve finished their studies, they go home unless they are offered a graduate-level skilled job, with a minimum salary.”

The problem of bogus colleges and fraud in the immigration system has grown in recent years. Concerns are echoed by the slow uptake of the UK Border Agency’s Highly Trusted Sponsor licence. In January 2011, only 131 of 744 listed colleges had been awarded Highly Trusted Sponsor status. However, figures released by the British Government show that since January 2011, those non-Highly Trusted Sponsors have sponsored a total of 280,000 students. “The potential for abuse is clearly enormous,” Cameron said.

Cameron cited many examples in his speech of supposed students found to be doing everything but studying: students found working 280 miles from their sponsor, students working in 20 different locations and severe under-staffing in some institutions: 2 lecturers for 940 students, for example.

Fresh Student Visa Changes – A New Loophole?

The changes to the UK student visa system announced by the Home Secretary Theresa May this afternoon could open a new loophole, warns an organisation representing 450 accredited language centres.

Students entering the UK for a year or more will be tightly regulated, as colleges bringing them in on General Student Visas under the Points-based System must now have Highly Trusted Sponsor status and be inspected by Ofsted. But the Government risks losing control of students entering for up to 11 months on an (Extended) Student Visitor Visa, which is outside the PBS.

Tony Millns, English UK’s chief executive, commented: “The danger is that Entry Clearance Officers will not check that applicants for Student Visitor visas are in fact enrolled at accredited colleges, and will approve visas which allow bogus students to come to dodgy colleges with no controls or even proper classes. It would be a disaster if a crackdown on one route allowed abuse to happen through another. The extended SVV is a good route for relative beginners who needed extra time to reach the language level required for a PBS General Student Visa, and we do not want to lose it because of abuse by non-accredited colleges.”

English UK has welcomed several aspects of the Government’s package on student visas, while assessing some changes more critically. “Overall the package of measures is more targeted than the original proposals, and we shall be looking to work with UKBA and Ofsted to make sure that the majority of our member colleges who already have Highly Trusted Sponsor status can continue with that under the new arrangements.

“Finally however we must say to the Government that the UK’s international education sector, one of the few growth areas of the economy right now, has had 5 years of continuous rapid change in the visa system and requirements, and once these changes are introduced there should be no further changes for at least 2 years to restore confidence around the world that it is possible to come to the UK to study.”

English UK agrees with the decision to leave the English level for pre-degree courses at B1, broadly equivalent to a top-grade GCSE, as “welcome and sensible”. It also believes setting maximum visa terms of 3 years for courses below degree level, and 5 years (except for courses such as medicine and architecture) for first degree level and above, is broadly sensible and realistic.

However, it says the Government has “missed a trick” by not basing its approach on payment of course fees (or a significant proportion of fees) in advance, and the concept of visa officials deciding which banks can be trusted or not extends the powers of the UK Border Agency into commercial dealings worldwide.

It is concerned by the discriminatory and anti-competitive decision to outlaw the right to work for students on courses at private colleges, even though these courses may be franchised by a university whose own students can continue to work for up to 20 hours a week.

English UK is also concerned that some genuine students may be deterred from studying at British universities by the new regulations on language requirements, dependants and post-study work. The decision to require students on degree courses to have level B2 English (equivalent to a top-grade A level/university year one) will either restrict access to a considerable number of universities or will increase the numbers of students who have to take an international foundation year course before moving on to a degree, making it effectively a 4-year course. The restrictions on the rights of students to post-study work and to being accompanied by dependants during their courses will deter an appreciable number from coming to the UK, with a backwash effect on the number coming for preliminary English language and international foundation year courses.

Summary of New Tier 4 Student Policy

ACCREDITATION

All sponsors must have been accredited by either Ofsted and its devolved equivalents, QAA, the Independent Schools Inspectorate, the Bridge Schools Inspectorate or the Schools Inspection Service and all must become Highly Trusted Sponsors.

Sponsors will be required to achieve Highly Trusted Status by April 2012, and accredited by a relevant agency by the end of 2012. They will be required to apply for HTS status and accreditation by a date to be specified.

During the transition period there will be an interim limit on numbers sponsored by those who do not meet the above criteria.

Private providers will be able to provide courses, including pathway courses, by working in partnership and where the licensed sponsor takes responsibility and sponsors the student directly.

 

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

 

English Language requirement

B2 in each of the four disciplines is the appropriate level for those coming to study at level 6 (undergraduate) and above.

B1 is the appropriate level for lower courses, including the Pathways.

In order to get a visa, those outside of universities will have to present a test certificate from an independent test provider proving they have attained that level; universities will be able to vouch for a student’s ability where they are coming to study at degree level or above.

We will waive this requirement for truly exceptional students only following individual requests by university academic registrars.

UK Border Agency Officers will be able to refuse a migrant who cannot speak without an interpreter.

 

Evidence of student funding

All applicants to sign a declaration that the funds they present to meet the maintenance requirement are genuinely available for use in coming to the UK to study.  This will make refusals easier on grounds of deception.

We shall refuse applications where the bank statements are from a bank which we cannot trust to verify the statements. Local lists of proscribed banks will be established.

We shall introduce a streamlined process for low risk applicants going to Highly Trusted Sponsors, in general waiving the requirements to provide documents beyond the CAS and passport/ identity document.  This is based on robust supporting evidence of compliance and abuse.  This will bring about a system which is more targeted and responsive for both staff and applicants.

 

ENTITLEMENTS

 

Work during term and work placements

Students at Recognised Bodies (universities) will retain their right to work 20 hours a week part-time and to do work placements where the study : work ratio is 50:50.

Students at publicly funded FE colleges will continue to be able to work 10 hours a week part-time.

Other students will have no right to work part-time and work placements will have to be 66:33 in favour of study : work.

 

Dependants

For a student to sponsor a dependant, the student will have to be on a post graduate course (NQF 7 and above) at a university which is of more than 12 months’ duration, or a Government Sponsored student.

The dependants will be able to work.

 

 

AT THE END OF THE COURSE

 

Time allowed as a student

Maximum of 3 years at NQF 3-5 and 5 years at NQF 6-7.

For those at the higher level doing a PhD, there will be exceptions, as well as for those courses which require as a matter of professional qualification a longer duration than 5 years (e.g. medicine, architecture).

The sponsor will have to vouch for academic progression where students are not moving up to the next NQF level.

 

Post-Study Work

The current Post-Study Work route will be closed from April 2012.

Those graduating from a UK university with a recognised degree, PGCE, or PGDE will be able to switch into Tier 2.

There will not be a limit on these switchers.

They will only be able to switch if they are in the UK, before their student visa expires.

The normal Tier 2 requirements will apply, except for the Resident Labour Market Test.

We will ensure that genuine student entrepreneurs with a great idea are able to stay on in the UK to develop their business proposition.

Outline of Changes to UK Student Visa Rules April 2011

Tougher entrance criteria, limits on work entitlements and the closure of the post-study work route are among the changes to the student visa system announced today by Home Secretary Theresa May.

The announcement follows a major public consultation on reforming Tier 4 of the points-based system, after a Home Office review revealed widespread abuse. A sample of Tier 4 students studying at private institutions revealed that 26 per cent of them could not be accounted for.

The main changes are as follows:

  • From April 2012, any institution wanting to sponsor students will need to be classed as a Highly Trusted sponsor, and will need to become accredited by a statutory education inspection body by the end of 2012. The current system does not require this, and has allowed too many poor-quality colleges to become sponsors.
  • Students coming to study at degree level will need to speak English at an ‘upper intermediate’ (B2) level, rather than the current ‘lower intermediate’ (B1) requirement.
  • UK Border Agency staff will be able to refuse entry to students who cannot speak English without an interpreter, and who therefore clearly do not meet the minimum standard.
  • Students at universities and publicly funded further education colleges will retain their current work rights, but all other students will have no right to work. We will place restrictions on work placements in courses outside universities.
  • Only postgraduate students at universities and government-sponsored students will be able to bring their dependants. At the moment, all students on longer courses can bring their dependants.
  • We will limit the overall time that can be spent on a student visa to 3 years at lower levels (as it is now) and 5 years at higher levels. At present, there is no time limit for study at or above degree level.
  • We will close the Tier 1 (Post-study work) route, which allows students 2 years to seek employment after their course ends. Only graduates who have an offer of a skilled job from a sponsoring employer under Tier 2 of the points-based system will be able to stay to work.

The government has also pledged to develop a new entrepreneur route for bright and innovative students who have a business idea and want to make it work in the UK.

The Home Secretary said:

‘International students not only make a vital contribution to the UK economy but they also help make our education system one of the best in the world.

‘But it has become very apparent that the old student visa regime failed to control immigration and failed to protect legitimate students from poor-quality colleges.

‘The changes I am announcing today re-focus the student route as a temporary one, available to only the brightest and best. The new system is designed to ensure students come for a limited period, to study, not work, and make a positive contribution while they are here.

‘My aim is not to stop genuine students coming here – it is to eliminate abuse within the system. Our stricter accreditation process will see only first-class education providers given licences to sponsor students.

‘I am delighted to announce that, alongside our stricter rules, we will ensure that innovative student entrepreneurs who are creating wealth are able to stay in the UK to pursue their ideas.’

The government has committed to reforming all routes of entry to the UK in order to bring immigration levels under control. The student changes will work alongside the annual limit on economic migration, and reforms to family and settlement routes planned for later this year.

JCWI Response to Student Visa Consultation – part 1

RESPONSE BY JOINT COUNCIL FOR THE WELFARE OF IMMIGRANTS TO ‘THE STUDENT IMMIGRATION SYSTEM A CONSULTATION’

About JCWI

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (“JCWI”) is an independent, voluntary organisation working in the field of immigration, asylum and nationality law and policy. Established in 1967, JCWI provides legally aided immigration advice to migrants and actively lobbies and campaigns for changes to immigration and asylum law and practice. Its mission is to promote the welfare of migrants within a human rights framework.

Introduction

Non-EEA students bring a range of cultural and economic benefits to the UK.   In relation to the latter it should be noted that:

i.                     Education and training exports represent the second biggest contributor to the UK’s net balance of payments. They are, according to the Financial Times worth £40 billion.

ii.                   According to the independent Migration Advisory Committee, for every one pound students generate for universities, a further fifty pence is generated for other industries.

iii.                  The independent Migration Advisory Committee found that non-EEA national students subsidise the educational system in the UK.  In fact they account for 37% of total university fee income.

iv.                 Research shows that students bring knowledge of different countries, languages and cultures which are beneficial to UK businesses that wish to develop markets new markets.

v.                   Non-EEA national student graduates who remain in the UK contribute £1 billion per year to GDP.

vi.                 Non-EEA national students who remain in the UK after graduation contribute at least £100 million per year in fiscal benefits.

vii.                The independent Migration Advisory Committee concluded following its recent examination of the Post Study Work route that there was no evidence that non-EEA nationals using the Post Study Work route displaced nationals in the labour market.

viii.              Research from the US has shown that for every 1% increase in the share of immigrant university graduates in the US population, patents per capita are increased by 6%. We expect similar trends to be prevalent in the UK.

By way of general observation, given the above, and given that statistics show that the British economy shrank by 0.5% in the last quarter, and that educational establishments including world class universities like Cambridge are already starting to shed jobs (due to cuts of 25% and 40% to the further and higher education budgets) it is disingenuous to make the reduction of foreign students/graduates a general policy objective in itself. We go on to deal with the specific consultation questions below.

Question 1

Do you think that raising the minimum level of study sponsors with a standard sponsor licence can offer under Tier 4 (General) to degree-level and above is an effective way of reducing abuse of Tier 4 (General) route, increasing selectivity and simplifying the current rules?

No.

There seems to be no adequate policy justification for this.  From the point of view of economic value, this will result in loss of fee revenue both for further, but also higher education institutions given that approximately half of all students recruited by universities start out on sub-degree courses.

So far as the underlying rationale goes –  there is a higher rate of non-compliance amongst this group, the research on which this conclusion is based is unreliable given that the study is based on: a.  potential non-compliance, b. focuses only on an unrepresentative sample of organisations UKBA already had concerns about and c. offers a ‘maximum potential estimate’ only.

Question 2

Do you think that only Highly Trusted Sponsors should be permitted to offer study below degree level to NQF levels 3,4, and 5/SCQF levels 6, 7, and 8 in the Tier 4 (General) category?

No.

See above comments. The current system which was only put in place in 2010 is adequate to deal with this.

Question 3

Do you think that the changes discussed in this section should be phased in?

Yes.

If they must be introduced they should be brought in over a 37 months plus time-frame as they will be disruptive for educational establishments and students.

Question 4

Do you think that, in the light of the low risk of abuse amongst users of the Tier 4 (Child) route, there should be no changes to the route?

Yes.

We have had also had sight of the response by the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association13 and agree with their further observation about the need for amendments to rule 56(a)(iii) of the Immigration Rules.

Question 5

Do you think that all students using Tier 4 (General) category should have passed a secure English language test to demonstrate proficiency in English language to level B2 of the CEFR, in order to improve selectivity and to simplify the current system?

No.

As the UK Council for International Student Affairs suggests, this is most likely to affect students from Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia – all low risk countries, and could lead to the loss of somewhere in the region of £120 million for the UK.

More generally, however, there is simply no sound policy justification for this. It is more appropriate for educational providers to make assessments about suitability for courses.

Question 6

Do you think that students from majority English-speaking countries, those who have been awarded a qualification equivalent to UK degree-level or above that was taught in English in a majority English-speaking country, and those who have recently studied in the UK as children should be exempt from any new language testing requirement?

Yes.

Additionally notwithstanding the above comments this should extend to:

i.                     Any degree taught in English – otherwise there is a risk that such provisions would be inconsistent with statutory race equality duties.

ii.                   Students who have obtained a qualification equivalent to A-Level or ILB through the medium of English.

Question 7

Do you think that students wishing to study a new course of study should be required to show evidence of progression to study at a higher level?

No.

Academic progression is not a mere evolution from undergraduate to Masters to Phd. A well rounded education may for example require studying two separate Masters degree courses. Indeed there are number of perfectly valid reasons that students may wish to study at different levels.

It should also be noted that Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides that no one should be denied the right to education.  The former includes a right of access to existing educational institutions. When read with Article 14 ECHR and in the light of the justification advanced in the paper- the need to prevent students from staying in the UK indefinitely without making academic progress,15 there is a question about the extent this would be consistent with this. Furthermore given that Article 10 ECHR also encompasses the right to receive and impact information and ideas16, there is also a question mark as to the extent to which such as measure may potentially unlawfully interfere with ECHR rights.

Question 8

Do you think students wanting to study new courses should return home to apply from overseas?

No. There is nothing in the evidence that would suggest that this would be desirable either from the perspective of educational establishments, students or immigration control. See also above point about Article 10 ECHR which may potentially also come into play.

Question 9

What changes do you think we should make to the Tier 1 Post Study Work Route?

The independent Migration Advisory Committee examined this issue carefully recently in 2009 and concluded that the route should remain open because of the implications for fees for universities – PSWR has an influence in the decision to chose the UK as a place of study. It also concluded that there should be broad continuation of the current policy.

If the route is ultimately to be closed down, appropriate transitional arrangements will need to be put in place as those already in PSWR were given a legitimate expectation that they would be able to switch to Tiers one and two after a two year period.

We agree with ILPA that transitional arrangements should also extend to students who are already in the system given that their choice for their university of study may well have been based on the existence of the PSWR.

JCWI Response to Student Visa Consultation – part 2

JCWI Response to Student Visa Consultation – part 2

Question 10

Do you think that we should restrict further the amount of work students should be allowed to undertake when studying?

No.  There are a range of perfectly valid reasons that students may need to work.

Importantly, Article 6(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognises the right to work which includes the right of everyone in the jurisdiction to the opportunity to gain work. The UK is bound by this obligation. Its reservation extends only to the purpose of protecting the employment opportunities in the UK/regions within it. This however is not the stated rationale of the proposal, nor is it supported by any evidence.

Question 11

Do you think we should make it simpler for employers to understand the rules around student work by limiting it to set times except

We agree with ILPA’s comments in their response to this Consultation.

Question 12

Do you think that the minimum ratio of study to work placement permitted should be increased from the current 50:50 to 66:33, except where there is a statutory requirement that the placement should exceed one- third of the total course length?

No.

If courses are set up in this way it is because the course providers are of the view that this is the most effective way to acquire the relevant knowledge/expertise in question.  There is no evidence put forward to justify putting foreign students a disadvantage in comparison to domestic students. Further it is unclear as to how this would practically operate.

Question 13

Do you think that only those studying for longer than 12 months should be permitted to bring their family members to the UK?

No.

This will of course deter people from studying in the UK. Furthermore, it is not consistent with internationally accepted human rights principles of family unity, and non-discrimination. These principles should be reflected in these proposals which are likely to have discriminatory effects for women. Women overwhelmingly assume child-care responsibilities and are subject to cultural norms which might make it unacceptable to travel alone.

Question 8

Do you think students wanting to study new courses should return home to apply from overseas?

No. There is nothing in the evidence that would suggest that this would be desirable either from the perspective of educational establishments, students or immigration control. See also above point about Article 10 ECHR which may potentially also come into play.

Question 14

Do you think that family members permitted to accompany the student should be prohibited from working?

No.

Article 6 (1) of the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognises the right to work which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain work.  The rationale for the proposal is to limit access to public services and to limit unlawful work is not consistent with the terms of the UK’s reservation. This permits interference only for the purpose of protecting employment opportunities in the UK/parts of the UK.

Question 15

Do you agree that differential requirements for high and low risk students should be adopted?

No.

We have several concerns about this. They are as follows:

Race equality exemptions have historically been problematic. A constant theme of the former Race Monitor’s reports was that basing selections on previous adverse decisions meant that passengers were less likely to be given the benefit of the doubt. They were therefore more likely to be refused.

This will discriminate against people from countries or regions where corruption, state failure or inefficiency plagues administrations and is likely to have greater impacts on developing countries.

It is inherently unfair given that prospective applicants will be subject to more stringent testing simply on account of simply having ‘a risk profile’ as opposed to anything they have said or done.

Question 16

Do you believe that we should focus on the abuse of documentary evidence for maintenance and/or qualifications as the basis of differential treatment?

No.

See above.  We also agree with the comments made by the Immigration Law Practitioner’s Association in their response – the figures are difficult to rely upon given that they could simply be representative of higher numbers of applicants applying from those countries, or representative of the fact that more rigorous checking procedures are in place in certain countries.

Question 17

Do you believe that we should also, or alternatively look at the sponsors rating as a basis for differential treatment?

No.

We agree with the comments by ILPA in their response to this consultation.

Question 18

Do you think that more should be done to raise accreditation and inspection standards to ensure the quality of education provision within private institutions of further and higher education for Tier 4 purposes?

No (not through the use of immigration law).

We do not believe that the question of regulation of educational standards is one for immigration law. This is better dealt with the context of education, and should be left to regulators in that friend to determine.

Question 19

In the light of the proposals described in this document, what do you think will be the main advantages/disadvantages, including any financial impacts, to you, your business or your sector?

We will not directly be affected however see the introduction to this paper for the potential economic impacts for the UK of reducing student numbers.

JCWI Response to Student Visa Consultation – part 1

Video Response to Threat of Student Visa Cuts

Tony Millns, chief executive of English UK, took part in a press conference with other sector bodies such as Universities UK, UKCISA, Study UK and the National Union of Students, regarding the government’s plans to review Tier 4 of the Points Based System and raise English language requirements. The press conference took place at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre on Wednesday 26 January.

In a BBC News article published on 27 January 2011, Tony Millns was quoted as saying that the planned raising of the required language level would rule out 70-80% of students who currently study foundation courses.

He also said: “International student fees subsidise home student places, they keep courses and sometimes whole departments open. In some universities, where more than 60% of students are not home students, they are vital to the survival of institutions.”