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Written by Jinling Luo
Crash! Dropping from six to just two months, international students now have drastically shortened permission to stay in the UK after graduation. Following Brexit, the visa verification criteria are pushing up against the limit. Amber Rudd announced two-tier visa regulations, as well as a new £140m “controlling migration fund” to further decrease the size of overseas student body. The government will now put stricter regulations on student visa applicants from poor university, courses, and relative majors, and criteria on recruitment.
This might be seen as a fair policy at first place, for international students take about 28% percent of the overseas labour market. This is indeed a large group, and certainly, for a group that can be efficiently moderated to achieve sustainable net immigration, adjustments in visa requirements can have an immeasurable impact on them.
However, what extent should these regulations be stretched up to? Will the discouraging nature of the students’ visa policy contribute favorably in long term? For once, such hostile circumstance comes to education, the probability that overseas students are being pushed away is increasing.
Undeniably, lots of factors are taken to consider when oversea students apply for schools. The quality of the local universities and students’ corresponding academic capability are essential, yet the tendency of Britain to discourage students from either entering or staying is critical.
Most students who come to Britain for study are non-EU citizens—Chinese, Indian, Nigerian, Malaysian and United States students being the top five sending countries over the past five years. However, they face increasing pressure, rigid criteria and higher requirement of maintenance fees to either enter or stay. Tier 4 students are banned from extending their visas after their program finished, and were permitted to stay from originally half a year to now only two months. Tier 2 or Tier 5 work visa applicants were required to leave the country before application, rather than switch their visas within the UK. Moreover, Tier 4 students who want to further their education have reduced study time now—from 3 years to 2 years. These factors in all discourage and obstruct potential prominent students from coming. As for EU students, the idea works in the same way—the policies to control oversea students number having already been implemented.
Yet what becomes tricky here is that this group of students is creating a great number of jobs, and they are committed to the education sector via their knowledge contribution and economic consumption. Recent London and Partners report published by the end of 2015 shows that international students contribute £3 billion to the UK economy and help support 37,000 jobs. Yet with the hostile conditions on studying abroad, international students face increasing incentives to choose alternatives.
As a matter of fact, Nicola Dandridge of Universities UK pointed out that the majority of students go back to their countries after they finished their study. By limiting students from course options and opportunities of recruitment, the British Government is taking affirmative action in obstructing the movement of immigrants, visitors, essential scholars and talents.
At the Conservative Party conference on Oct. 4th, Amber Rudd’s statement suggested not letting foreign labour ‘taking jobs British people could do’ further indicated changes of hiring ethics, in ‘forcing companies to reveal the number of recruited foreign workers’. Jeremy Hunt said that the NHS can be ‘self-sufficient within 10 years’ and ‘not have to rely on foreign doctors’. How would overseas students respond to such condition? Taken the uncertainty of Brexit negotiation, what their position or social role will be amidst British society in the future?