The TES is reporting that the NUS has called on the government to reverse its “damaging and unacceptable” immigration policies after new figures revealed the number of college applications from overseas has halved in just three years.
New analysis of Home Office data by TES reveals that the number of students from outside the European Union applying for Tier 4 visas to study at colleges in the UK has dropped from more than 35,000 between July 2011 and June 2012 to just 17,000 in the same time period in 2014-15.
And experts have warned that the international recruitment market, currently estimated by the Association of Colleges to be worth £100 million a year to the FE sector, could be about to deteriorate further due to the controversial decision to scrap a rule which previously allowed non-EU students in FE taking courses of six months or more to work for up to 10 hours per week.
NUS international students’ officer Mostafa Rajaai said it was “no surprise” that student numbers in FE had dropped, and added that the introduction of “credibility interviews” for applicants by Home Office officials had also deterred potential students.
“The scrapping of the right to work for FE international students and the reduced time limit to study an FE course has tarnished whatever reputation British colleges had abroad,” he said. “If the Home Office doesn’t reverse these damaging and unacceptable policies, we will see them affecting UK colleges even more than they already have…”
The Home Office response is to suggest the latest figures suggest its policy is working by “making sure people are coming here for the right reasons”.
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