U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May is considering plans to send foreign students home once they graduate. They will need to reapply for a working visa while in their home country if they want to return. These new plans are ways to help control the immigration into the country, but not everyone is happy with the idea.
Students from outside of the U.K. are currently allowed to remain in the country after studies for four months. They can apply for working visas or visas to continue their studies. If they get a graduate job, they are allowed to switch to work visas relatively easily. Those from the European Union are allowed to remain due to the current laws allowing freedom of movement.
However, May insists that the rules surrounding visas are currently being abused. That is leading to many students remaining in the U.K. illegally once their studies come to an end.
The decision to introduce the plans was made when the Home Secretary said that immigration targets set by the government are not likely to be met. The Conservative government wants to tackle the problem head-on, and not just with those entering the country to work. The plans are currently being considered in time to introduce in the next manifesto for the party.
May is not only considering sending foreign graduates home, but also those currently studying if their visa expires. They will not be able to reapply while in the U.K., which could cause problems for their studies. A source from the Home Office claims that it would mean only the “brightest and best” will get back to the U.K. to reduce the abuse allegedly currently happening to the system.
However, the number of students from outside of the European Union has decreased this year for the first time in almost 30 years. There were 4,595 foreign students studying at England’s universities.
Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, acknowledged that there was a problem, but not just with students. There are people on other types of visas abusing the system, including tourist and working visa. They would need to be sent home, too.
Not everyone supports the idea. SNP politician Christian Allard said that the decision would be bad for Scotland. It would lead to a loss of expertise to the country, and the economy greatly needs that. The universities would also be damaged due to the decisions.
Some of the proposals have included colleges and universities being fined for not removing students who are no longer in the country legally. Some of the worst universities will no longer be allowed to accept foreign students, which could negatively affect the universities. Foreign students currently pay the most in universities around the U.K.
Shadow Home Secretary Cooper stated that May is struggling with policies as she tries to help the Conservatives meet targets. The plans have not been very well thought out, and could lead to further damaging the economy. However, May continues to consider the plans to make foreign graduates go home to reapply for visas to continue to study or work in the U.K.
By Alexandria Ingham
Photo by Jimmy Thomas