UK immigration minister meets with Study Group about Tier 4 visa

Comments by Sanwar Ali:

The Government still seems to want to keep overseas Tier 4 visa students in the immigration figures and wants to increase the numbers entering the UK, which will affect UK net migration figures.  The Boris Johnson Government also claim that they wish to reduce immigration.  The Government seems to be pulling in two opposite directions at once. 

Including Tier 4 visa students in the immigration figures has been a controversial policy.  There have been many who have argued that Tier 4 visa students should not be included in the immigration figures, and it is misleading to do so.

There is also continuing uncertainty over the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and how it will affect demand for Tier 4 visas from international students in future.  The effects of the pandemic will most likely be felt for years to come.  The Government may therefore have difficulty increasing educational exports.

Minister for Future Borders and UK Immigration, Kevin Foster, met with the CEO of Study Group, Emma Lancaster, recently to discuss support for international students. The meeting, which took place as part of a visit to Cardiff University, comes after Foster announced that a new Student route and Child route would be opened early.

The revamped Tier 4 visa route has been introduced as part of the UK government’s commitment to attracting the ‘brightest international students from around the world.’ Ms Lancaster met with Foster to share views on how Britain’s education system can be made more competitive on an international scale.

Ms Lancaster of Study Group makes several suggestions

Ms Lancaster also offered ideas on how the government can reach its ambitious educational export target of £35 billion by 2030. According to a report published by FE News, the Study Group CEO made several suggestions, including:

  • Streamlining the student visa process for international students and delegating functions to trusted providers, who can help to facilitate a simplified student journey for prospective international students, which would make Britain a more attractive destination.

Study Group also committed to supporting the government with its international education strategy, according to the FE News report.

As part of round table discussions between Study Group, Foster and his civil service team, the Minister for Future Borders and Immigration reiterated his commitment to “making the UK immigration system much more user-friendly,” while pledging to work closely with businesses and communities to ensure that the system works for everyone.

International students on Tier 4 visas needed

Commenting on international students, Mr Foster said: “International students play a key part in the government’s agenda to unleash the UK’s potential now that we have left the EU. They make important contributions economically, academically, and financially.”

The meeting highlighted Study Group’s historic relationship with the Home Office and the Departments of Education and International Trade, demonstrating their support for welcoming policies that aim to attract international students.

Ms Lancaster welcomed the opportunity to speak directly to Mr Foster, saying: “I very much appreciated the chance to engage with the Minister personally and to thank him for his efforts to support international students through policy mitigation in the face of COVID-19.”

“Both Kevin Foster and the Universities Minister Michelle Donelan have worked closely with the international education sector to mitigate the adverse consequences of COVID-19 on international students to ensure no student has a negative outcome through the UK immigration system due to a circumstance beyond their control,” Ms Lancaster added.

International Education Strategy for overseas students

Ms Lancaster also expressed her thanks for Mr Foster’s commitment to welcoming the International Education Strategy, especially recent changes that will see the reintroduction of a post-study work visa route in the summer of 2021.

Lancaster said: “The post-study work visa route puts the UK in line with other countries seeking to attract international students. This is an important change for students seeking an opportunity to develop their careers and to mitigate the cost of study in the UK, as well as bringing vital skills and tax revenue to the UK.”

“We are keen to do our part to communicate the latest developments to talented potential students across the world,” she added.

During his visit to Cardiff University, Mr Foster - a former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales - also met with staff and international students on campus.

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