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  • Study UK response to new Government student visa measures Study UK has responded to a joint announcement by the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary that the rules for educational institutions sponsoring international students will be dramatically tightened. From 1st November, the proportion of student visa applications that can be refused before their sponsor is stripped of its licence will be halved from 20% to 10%. Alex Proudfoot, Study UK Association Manager, speaking to The PIE News, said: "We were disappointed to hear that the Home Secretary has chosen to proceed with this policy change after the idea was met with almost universal criticism when floated earlier this year. We do not think it is helpful, we have seen no evidence to suggest it is necessary, and we are concerned that it will have damaging and unintended consequences across the UK's education sector. "The Home Office has many tools at its disposal to tackle suspected abuse or non-compliance in the student visa system, and the visa refusal rate was already the bluntest and least fit for purpose. There are a host of factors that can affect a sponsor's refusal rate, and very few which are within their control. The visa decision-making process is far from perfect, and errors by entry clearance officers are common but can be stubbornly hard to correct. Subjective assessments are made of a student's 'credibility' at interview, with questionable conclusions reached daily which cannot be appealed. Simple mistakes are made frequently by prospective students themselves, despite the best efforts of institutions. "This change will hit smaller providers the hardest, including further education and sixth form colleges, language schools, and specialist institutions which attract students from across the world through word of mouth alone. They do not have the sheer volume of student numbers to absorb any unexpected spike in refusals. The Home Office claims that a discretionary approach is adopted towards small institutions, but it is too narrow in scope, is too inconsistently applied, and gives little reassurance or comfort to institutions, their shareholders or trustees."The Government press release promises 'a 3 month transitional period for colleges and universities to re-examine their admissions procedures before offering individuals places'. In truth, just two days' notice has been given before visa refusals will start to count towards this new 10% threshold on 1st August. "For its part, the Government should use these next three months to enter into a dialogue with the sector as to how it might differentiate between its pursuit of any remaining 'bogus student colleges' (the intended target, as publicly stated by the Prime Minister, of today's action) and any unintentional, collateral damage to genuine institutions. These institutions need urgent reassurance that the Government seeks only to eradicate abuse, not simply to reduce genuine student numbers in absolute terms. They need confirmation that the Home Office will therefore exercise discretion and restraint towards sponsors whose refusal rates exceed 10% through no clear fault of their own. The reputation of UK education depends on it." ENDS Notes to Editors For further information, email info@study-uk.org or call 020 7608 7090. Study UK is the UK’s leading association for independent further and higher education institutions and specialist training providers, with over 120 quality-assured members. The Government announcement can be read in full here.
  • Study UK response to David Willetts resignation Study UK has responded to the news that David Willetts MP has resigned as Minister of State for Universities and Science, to be replaced by Greg Clark MP as part of a cabinet reshuffle today. Alex Proudfoot, Study UK Association Manager, said: "David Willetts brought real vision and energy to the HE sector, backed up by ambitious reforms which have left UK Higher Education on a stronger footing for the future. He applied his deep understanding and consideration to the challenges facing the sector and provided invaluable support on many issues to both traditional universities and new providers alike. We wish him well in his future plans."There are however many issues left to resolve in order to ensure equal treatment for all providers leading to a sustainable, competitive and efficient sector for the future. In this regard we look forward to working with the new universities and science minister Greg Clark on creating a modern HE sector which meets the needs of students and the country alike and which further strengthens our position internationally." ENDS
  • Job vacancy: Communications Officer Study UK is currently recruiting for a Communications Officer to join our small, friendly team of permanent staff based in Central London. The closing date for applications is Friday 8 August 2014 at 17:30. You can download our candidate information pack, with full job description, person specification, staff benefits and details of how to apply, at the bottom of the page. Job title:  Communications OfficerLocation:  Farringdon, Central London (EC1)Hours:  Full time (nominally 34.5 hours per week but flexibility will be essential)Salary:  £25,000 – £28,000 (dependent on experience) Job summary:The post-holder will work with colleagues to develop and expand the content, reach and impact of Study UK’s communications. This post would suit a strong and proactive all-round communicator with a flexible and innovative approach. The ability to work across a range of communication channels and social media and to work in partnership with others is essential. Main duties and responsibilities: Plan and coordinate all of Study UK’s internal and external communications messages across a range of channels, including the Study UK website (public and members’ area), associated websites, newsletters, social media, etc. Develop Study UK’s media monitoring capability and produce regular summaries of media coverage of relevance to Study UK and associated stakeholders. Regularly generate news, comment and content for the Study UK website and other communications channels. Develop and maintain relationships with key contacts in the education press, local and national media, partner organisations and other relevant media. Coordinate the production and dissemination of press releases and associated material. Oversee all internal communications and contribute to the production of occasional briefings for association members and key contacts. Maintain and develop Study UK’s range of publications, leaflets and promotional material. Monitor the quality, timeliness and house style of internal and external communications. Establish a consistent method of evaluating the impact and effectiveness of Study UK’s communications. Advise the Board in the development of a more focussed communications strategy and oversee its implementation. Advise on the development and coordinate the delivery of proactive communications campaigns that powerfully communicate Study UK’s key messages in order to influence policy makers, influential stakeholders and public opinion. Work with colleagues and external developers to develop our use of digital media to support our campaigns.  
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