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UK visa fees for foreign students set to rise

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Following the announcement of future plans for the UK immigration system, the British Government has announced that foreign students will have to pay more for visa services, the BBC reports.

The UK's Minister for Immigration Des Browne announced yesterday that, from April, fees for non-EU students needing to extend visas to finish courses will rise from GBP 155 to GBP 250 for postal service and from GBP 250 to GBP 500 for premium "in person" service. At the same time the postal rate for non-student visas will rise to GBP 335.

University lobby groups, who fear that the extra charges could make Britain less competitive in attracting foreign students, have criticized the move.

"Introducing chares at this level could have a detrimental impact on international student recruitment," said Ivor Crewe, President of the vice-chancellors' group Universities UK.

However, Mr. Browne said such concerns were groundless, and that the relatively lower increase for postal service is a reflection of the government's commitment to encouraging foreign students to study in Britain.

Tertiary education for foreigners is big business in the UK. The British Council expects the number of foreign students at UK Universities to triple to 870,000 by 2020, contributing GBP 13 billion a year to the economy.