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New report highlights visa rules damage to private sector

30 January 2012

A report released today by a leading think tank brings into sharp focus the damage being caused by new immigration controls on the private higher education sector. In 'Tier 4 tears: how government student visa controls are destroying the private HE sector', CentreForum issues a damning verdict on the effect of changes to the student visa system, which have been "devastating for many in the sector".

Study UK's own research indicates that enrolments in the sector have dropped by around 70% as a result of the rule changes and interim cap on recruitment, costing some £400 million in lost tuition fees and an even greater impact on the wider economy. The CentreForum report concludes that "the government must act if we are to avoid seeing the destruction of much of the private HE sector in the UK" and calls for the reinstatement of part-time work rights for students at independent colleges.

Picking up the story yesterday, the Independent on Sunday highlighted the disconnect between Home Office policies and efforts by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to promote more choice in Higher Education. As Chris Nicholson, CentreForum chief executive and the report's author, puts it: "the student visa controls make a mockery of the Government's aim to promote greater diversity in higher education. The private sector is being critically undermined."

Study UK member Cavendish College is one of those forced to close by the squeeze on recruitment caused by Tier 4 changes and has been used as a case study for the CentreForum report. Its Principal, Dr John Sanders, told the Independent: "Withdrawal of these part-time work rights has really killed off recruitment for private colleges. They are clearing out a lot of good colleges as well as the bad".

Alex Proudfoot, Study UK Association Manager, responded today: "It is very sad that a highly regarded college such as Cavendish has had to shut its doors after 25 years of providing an excellent education to students from diverse backgrounds. We share the Government's aim of protecting the sector from the profiteers that once thrived thanks to lax regulation, but we cannot support a sledgehammer approach that hits good institutions as hard as the bad. Every Cavendish that closes is a loss to the local economy, a blow to our national recovery and a stain on the name of UK education."

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