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British Council warns Government on student visas

10 February 2012

New research published by the British Council yesterday has called into question Government policies aimed at reducing the intake of international students.  The Education Intelligence report 'Impact of Visa Changes on Student Mobility and Outlook for the UK' looks at the recent experiences of the USA and Australia in tightening student visa controls and the effect that it had on their higher education sectors and economies.

It warns that the adoption of policies that other countries have now abandoned has "managed to single out the UK as the country with the toughest immigration regime when compared to its competitors" and risks losing "genuine and career-driven students" to Australia, Canada and the US.  The report warns further that "the publicity overseas of recent closures of private colleges is expected to have a negative impact on the UK education brand as a quality destination".

Dr Jo Beall, director of education and society at the British Council, told Times Higher Education that the Government's policies on student visas and post-study work needed "urgent review... if we're not going to undermine the economic benefit that higher education as an export sector brings" and accused the Home Office of favouring "short-term" goals over "the strength of our industrial innovation, our research and development base, [and] our reputation as a higher education provider".

Study UK welcomes the British Council's valuable contribution to this ongoing and essential debate, and calls on the Government to respond with new measures to repair the UK's reputation as a country that welcomes international students and the economic, academic and cultural benefits they bring.  Alex Proudfoot, Study UK Association Manager, said: "Dr Beall makes an important point by recognising the essential part that private colleges play in giving students from diverse backgrounds a pathway into higher education. The catastrophic decline in enrolments and closure of good colleges should send alarm bells ringing across Whitehall, because it is not just the private sector that suffers - the UK's universities will also feel the pain."

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