Theresa May plans new immigration crackdown on student visas

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Source: The Telegraph

Theresa May’s new government is preparing the ground for a fresh crackdown on immigration amid concerns that universities have become an easy route into Britain for migrants who want to work.

The Prime Minister has backed calls to restrict student visas so that only the brightest and best can come to study at reputable universities in Britain.

As Home Secretary she took action to close down “bogus” colleges and to limit visas for students coming to study some further education courses.

But Mrs May’s team believe further restrictions on international students could significantly help to reduce net migration.

Chart showing net migration since 2011
Chart showing net migration since 2011

Government sources indicated that Home Office and Department for Education officials are likely to be ordered to examine what more can be done to tighten the student visa regime.

Options expected to be considered include stopping people coming to Britain to take so-called “Mickey Mouse” courses at low ranking institutions, action to stop universities marketing their courses as opportunities for students to work in Britain, and any further steps to make sure foreign students return home after finishing their studies.

The Home Office has estimated that one in five foreign students overstays their visa and continues to live in Britain long after their course has finished.

The plan, which is at an early stage, emerged after a row over whether Mrs May’s government remains committed to the target of reducing “net migration” to below 100,000.

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, appeared last week to back away from the target before Mrs May stepped in to restate her commitment to achieving the goal.

 

As Home Secretary in David Cameron’s government, Mrs May clashed repeatedly with other ministers over her attempts to curb migration.

George Osborne, as Chancellor, and officials in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills tried to thwart her efforts because they regarded international students as good for the economy and for universities, which charge them higher tuition fees.

The Treasury and the BIS department were trying to relax the student visa rules by removing student numbers from official immigration statistics altogether.

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