UK higher education policy changes for foreign students

Support migrant centric journalism today and donate would like to remind future candidates for the Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme (SEGS) that changes announced by the UK Home Office March 30, will take affect May 1.

The SEGS has been broadened following the Chancellor's Pre Budget Report, and the UK Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt's five year plan to increase foreign scientific research in Britain.

Provisions have now been introduced to allow all international students on completion of a postgraduate degree, or an undergraduate degree in a shortage sector to work in the UK for up to 12 months.

Immigration rules have been updated to apply for all Master's degrees and PhD students commencing their studies from May 1, 2006. Anyone currently studying for either degree will qualify for SEGS.

Thereafter, only international students studying in a shortage sector will qualify for SEGS. Applicants will then be able to switch to other longer term immigration categories such as the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) and the Work Permit category to work in the UK after their 12 months of the SEGS has expired.

The new change does not require SEGS foreign students to have a job offer at the time of application. They will have to prove to the Home Office that they can support and accommodate themselves without relying on public funds.

The other change is for students that previously did not require visas to enter the UK. Student visas will become mandatory for all students to remain in the UK if studying. The Home Office wants to "crack down" on the abuse of students switching arrangements.

The Home Office stated it is committed to introducing mandatory entry clearance for students as part of its points based system for managed immigration, so to decrease abuse of the immigration system and regularise the system to which students enter the UK.

The changes are to take place July 1, 2006 and non-visa nationals granted leave before this date will not be subject to this rule change. Non-visa nationals who are already in the UK will also be able to switch into the student category without entry clearance as a student, subject to having been accepted for study of degree level or above.