UK universities warn of negative effects of tighter Tier 4 Student Visa rules

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UK Universities are warning that the tightening of student visa rules are likely to prevent much needed income coming into UK Universities from international students.

Eric Thomas of the group Universities UK believes that university-sponsored international students should be removed from migration figures. A survey commissioned by the university group claims that the public undervalues the financial worth of international students. The survey also added that the UK government was taking a risk by applying tougher rules on Tier 4 Students and at the same time abolishing the Tier 1 Post Study Work Visa; They face losing potential revenue from international students.

Thomas says overseas students are worth £5bn per year to the UK and that this "export industry" could be worth £16.9bn by 2025. But universities fear they could lose out on this money because of the tightening visa restrictions.

"The government could help grow this area of the economy by removing university-sponsored students from net migration figures. They should do this because the majority of students simply come here, study, and then leave," said Thomas.

The survey also suggested that one-third of the public believed that the rise in overseas students meant the loss of places for UK students. Thomas stated that the negative impression of international students showed the "misunderstanding about the positive contribution international students make".

"The government's approach to student visas must be proportionate and workable, and should not be imposed at the expense of our international reputation and our economic growth," he said.

UK Immigration Minister Damian Green and Home Secretary Theresa May announced the tightening of visa routes in order to combat abuse of the UK immigration system. The Government says that they wish to reduce net migration from its current level of 250,000 to the 'tens of thousands'. Many people have suggested that it is impractical to reduce immigration to the "tens of thousands"; It is not possible to restrict immigration of nationals from most of the EU Countries.

Green disagreed with the idea that visa regulations could damage legitimate recruiting of foreign students.

"There is no incompatibility between a strong university sector and tough border controls," said Green. "We are reforming the student visa system because it has been abused for too long, with providers selling immigration, not education."

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