New visa rules could cost British universities dearly

Britain is gaining a reputation abroad for being a “no-go” zone to international students – potentially losing billions of pounds to the economy and to universities. In an article by the Independent, the restrictions on visas, the well-documented rise in tuition fees for European Union students at English universities and the murder of a student from India at Christmas are posing a threat to the future of Britain’s universities.

Quantitative qualifiers are not the only thing that could suffer – UK universities’ reputation as being world-class institution to study could be affected. One estimate, in a report by the consultants London Economics, calculated that Britain could lose out on nearly £8bn in income.

Recent figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) indicate that the number of EU students applying to British universities has dropped by 11%. EU students face the same fees increase of up to £9,000 a year as English students – and are finding it cheaper to study in their own countries.

In numbers

£830m Cuts to university teaching funds from central Government this year – reducing places by 15,000

9.9% Fall in applications to English universities this year as tuition fees treble

2.3bn Potential loss of revenue over next decade from fall in EU students put off by higher fees and tighter controls on study visas

In measures to try to make sense of the new rules and regulations, universities and colleges are digging deep and spending millions of pounds trying to navigate the government’s new student visa rules.

For example, the LSE according to the Guardian spends £250,000 a year trying to understand regulations governing the entry of non-European Union students.  Medium-sized colleges have had to recruit more than a dozen members of staff to ensure that they are correctly complying with the rules.

In another article by the Guardian, it found that scores of genuine international students have been left stranded and penniless as a result of genuine private colleges closing down with ever more stringent regulations to weed out bogus colleges and students.

Timothy Blake, principal of the London School of English, said his college had to have 16 staff that needed to understand the regulations brought in by the coalition government. “The rules have gone too far,” Blake told MPs. “Legitimate students are being seriously affected by rules designed to take out bogus students.”

Dr Yaz Osho specialises in the politics of ‘race’ and racism, SME entrepreneurship, media representation, the sociology of work and racialized offline vs online identity politics. She has taught at Middlesex University, UEL, Goldsmiths, University of Westminster and was a Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of Sussex.

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