Is Theresa May Jeopardising The UK/India Relationship By Cracking Down On Student Visas?
With Article 50 set to be triggered by March 2017 and EU President, Donald Tusk making it clear that there is only “hard Brexit or no Brexit”, one would think UK Government would be striving to stay on the right side of India.
Currently the world’s fastest growing economy, according to the Economic Survey 2015-16, the India’s economy will continue to grow more than seven per cent in 2016-17.
At a time when Britain desperately needs to be in a strong position to negotiate trade deals with nations outside the EU, the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd’s rhetoric surrounding the crackdown on foreign students coming to the UK to study has puzzled many, including some of the country’s best Immigration law solicitors who assist those making applications for Tier 4 (Student) Visas.
Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, Ms Rudd announced the prospect of a multi-tiered student visa system under which the right for students to bring in families, work, to go on to post-study jobs or to come without passing an English language test, would be tied to the quality of the course and the university involved.
Her comments have angered Indian students, many of whom may were illegally deported in 2014, following the fraudulent language test scandal.
Misleading the public over the abuse of the Tier 4 (Student) Visa
Earlier this week a leaked government report, obtained by The Times showed that only one percent of students break the terms of their Tier 4 (Student) Visa by failing to leave the UK after their course ends. The report shows only around 1,500 students overstay their visa every year, a far cry from the governments stated figures which quote, “tens of thousands”.
The news calls further into question Prime Minister Theresa May's hard-line stance against international students, who she believes routinely abuse and exploit the system.
Contribution to the UK economy
International students are worth £10.7 billion to the UK economy and support 170,000 jobs. Some of the best and brightest international students hail from India; however, according to Immigration lawyers, they are increasingly put off coming to the UK to further their education by the governments hostile statements.
International students are also crucial for the success of Britain's research, because they account for over 40% of all postgraduate students, and half of those doing full-time research degrees.
Students welcomed by many
According to a recent poll, 75% of British people would be happy for the same amount, or even an increase in the number of foreign students coming to the UK to study. A further 91% of those polled believed international students should be able to remain in the UK for a period of time to work following the end of their course.
The poll, which questioned over 2,000 adults, also found that:
- Of those that expressed a view, 81% agreed that international students have a positive impact on local economies and towns in which they study — 25% of British adults did not express a view either way.
- 71% of those who expressed a view would support a policy to help boost growth by increasing overseas students, while only 9% oppose the idea. 25% of British adults did not express a view.
- Just 25% of leave and 23% of remain voters said that they think of international students as immigrants.
Higher-education institutions who hold Tier 4 Sponsor Licences have thrown their support behind their students, heavily criticising the Home Secretary’s stance.
Responding to the speech, Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:
“The UK has a world-class reputation for the quality of its universities. We have one of the strongest systems for quality assurance in the world.
“The diversity of institutions and the range of high quality courses offered is one of the many strengths of our university sector. Any criteria must reflect that diversity. The criteria must also support the critical role that many universities play in their regions, where the impact of international students directly supports regional economies, supplies high level graduate skills, and ensures the sustainability of many courses at regional level.
“Polling has shown that the British public does not see international students as long-term migrants, but as valuable, temporary visitors. International students come to the UK, study for a period, and then the overwhelming majority go home after their studies.
“International students also enrich our campuses and the experience of UK students, both academically and culturally. Many return home having forged strong professional and personal links in this country that provide long-term, ‘soft power’ benefits for the UK.
“International (non-EU) students already make a £7 billion contribution to the UK economy, generating almost 137,000 jobs in communities in every region of the UK. International staff also make a vital contribution to our universities and country. The UK has one the strongest university systems in the world and is in a prime position to build on this and boost the country’s export earnings."
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond has also thrown his weight behind supporting those on a Tier 4 (Student) Visa. Mr Hammond indicated yesterday that he thought foreign student numbers should be removed from net migration statistics, something Ms May vehemently opposes.
It is clear that neither the public, the business community nor higher educational institutes accept the government’s position on international students. Given that Amber Rudd has had to back down on a number of statements she made at the Conference (including the now notorious suggestion that companies who employed a number of non-EEA workers would be ‘named and shamed’), it is likely that many of the threats made concerning the Tier 4 (Student) Visa will fail to materialise.
It may be prudent for the government to clarify this before Ms May meets India’s Prime Minister in early November.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London. Our student immigration team comprises of Smit Kumar, Hans Sok Appadu and Maryem Ahmed, all of whom would be happy to talk to you about applying for a Tier 4 (Student) Visa.
By making an appointment with one of our Immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.
If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0203 959 9123.