Entry clamp down for foreign students

first_imgThe government has proposed a series of changes to the current student visa system, making it more difficult for international students and their dependants to enter the UK and remain here beyond the duration of their course.If the proposal is passed, the new system will have a host of repercussions for the thousands of international students at Oxford.About 14 percent of undergraduate students and 63 percent of full-time postgraduates at Oxford come from outside the UK.In a report issued by the UK Border Agency, Home Secretary Theresa May said, “In recent years, the system as a whole has been allowed to operate in a manner which is not sustainable. “Unchecked migration can place significant pressure on our public services and can damage community cohesion if not properly managed”.Some current Oxford students have questioned whether they would have decided to study in the UK had these regulations been in place when they applied.“I think this will affect people’s decision to come to the UK,” said Weige Wu, a third-year Singaporean undergraduate reading PPE at Queens College. These changes give the impression that the UK is not welcoming to foreigners—and coming to a foreign country, that impression matters.”The Border Agency’s report suggests imposing a higher minimum standard of English language proficiency.Deeksha Sharma, who came from India for her DPhil in Law at Exeter College, recognised that poor English skills can hinder a student’s ability to integrate fully.“International students tend to be proficient in academic English, but if their spoken English is a problem, they are not effectively a part of social life,” she said.This measure could mean that potential Oxford students would have to take an expensive and redundant test, since Oxford expects successful candidates to demonstrate a higher level of English than the government would require. However, the Border Agency is considering excusing students at highly accredited institutions from some of the requirements, in recognition of these institutions’ stringent admissions standards and in the interest of attracting the most able students.Another provision calls for tighter restrictions on international students applying for two degrees in the UK. Students could be required to return home between degrees and apply from overseas.Foreign students would also have to demonstrate that the second degree is at a higher level than the first. This could cause trouble for students intending to undertake a second Masters’ or undergraduate degree at Oxford.At an OUSU meeting on Wednesday, students expressed concern that these restrictions would complicate the visa process, with unintended consequences for Oxford students.“No one is going to do a Masters’ at Oxford just to stay in the UK,” said one graduate student.The plan proposes to restrict or even close the popular two-year post-study work visa, which allows students to spend time after graduation looking for a job or engaging in further study.“If you’re under pressure to find a job while you’re supposed to be studying for finals, you could end up shooting yourself in the foot,” said one graduate student.The new system would also place tighter restrictions on students’ spouses and children, such as prohibiting them from working in the UK. It would limit international students’ ability to work during term-time, restricting them to on-campus jobs.“Is the UK interested in the success of it students?” asked Daniel Ostendorff, an American DPhil student of History at St. Cross College. “Separating someone from their family causes emotional stress.“If my wife couldn’t have come with me and have something purposeful to do, I wouldn’t have come here.”Students have also questioned whether decreasing the number of fee-paying international students makes sense in light of cuts to university funding.“I’m importing money into the UK economy,” said Ostendorff.Some Oxford students, however, support more stringent requirements for immigration.“The current system is detrimental to home students,” said Alexander Jack King, a first year student of Theology at Keble College. “To quote one of the greatest statesmen of all time, ‘British jobs for British workers.’” Gordon Brown’s slogan notwithstanding, one in six UK graduates is unemployed – the highest level in 17 years.The University has voiced fears that “both the UK economy and the University will undoubtedly lose some of the best international students, as well as some incredibly skilled people as a result of the proposed changes.”Julia Paolitto, a spokesperson for the University said, “There is a broad consensus throughout the education sector about the potential negative impact of some of these proposals.”last_img read more

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