British Council concerned about UK student visa changes

by Ray Clancy on February 23, 2012

Concerns over Post Study Work Visa being phased out

The British Council has voiced concerns over the UK’s current visa rules and says that current government policies could be damaging to the country.

According to Dr Jo Beall, director of education and society at the British Council, is particularly concerned about the Post Study Work Visa which gave overseas students the right to stay in the UK and seek employment after completing university courses, being phased out.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she expressed her worries over such changes.

‘We know from our own research that the right to work for a short period after study is something that influences students’ choices and decision making. We’re concerned that the UK, in a very competitive higher education landscape, doesn’t lose out,’ she explained.

She also believes that the current tightening of visa rules would not be of significant benefit to UK nationals.

‘The worst case scenario is that these short term gains of a few more young people flipping hamburgers and pulling pints who are British come at the cost of the strength of our industrial innovation, our research and development base, our reputation as a higher education provider, which is second in the world at the moment,’ she explained.

The British Council have sent a report to the government, detailing the US and Australian experience with student visa restrictions. In both countries, visa rules were subsequently relaxed after drops in international student numbers.

Universities Australia estimated that student visa tightening cost Australia A$428 million (£292 million) in 2010, the British Council report says.

While recognising the need to prevent bogus students entering the UK, Beall claimed that the government had failed to grasp how interconnected and interlinked the tertiary education sector is.

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