Survey finds foreign students affected by recent UK visa changes

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Foreign students believe that recent policy changes to the UK's visa system, specifically the ending of the Post-Study Work Visa in April next year, mean they are no longer welcome, according to a recent survey.

The survey, conducted by UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) in October, shows that the future closure of the Post-Study Work Visa has had the greatest impact on foreign students coming to the UK. The visa, which allows graduates two years to work in the UK after their course ends, is being abolished in April 2012.

"The fact that nearly four in ten of those well-qualified students who successfully gained places and visas did not endorse the statement that the UK welcomes international students is a very real cause of concern," reported UKCISA who questioned 5,000 overseas students.

Professor Paul Webley, chair of the UKCISA board of trustees, said, "It is essential therefore that we get these processes right, for the sake of continued growth in the sector and promote the message that in this field the UK is very much open for business."

The results were released around the same time Australian Immigration announced they will introduce a new post-study work visa for graduates.

"With the announcement by Australia of its new post-study work scheme, it is quite possible that significant numbers will be attracted there instead," Webley suggested, adding that recruitment to UK institutions has reduced as students "conclude that without part-time work, the cost of study in the UK is no longer affordable".

Changes to the policy on students working while studying on a Tier 4 student visa, include removing or decreasing work rights for students; This has been damaging, according to the survey. The most recent changes affect students applying for UK student visas from July this year; The changes also affect students who wish to renew their visas to stay in the UK.

The report also noted that some of the changes to the UK immigration rules affecting foreign students in the UK have been positive; 70 percent of students applying from overseas finding the visa application process quick and efficient, compared to 59 percent in 2009.

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