Foreign students hoping to come to Britain to study will have to meet strict new rules, the government announced on Wednesday.
The Home Office has published proposals for much tighter rules for foreign students and the universities and colleges hosting them, under the new point-based system.
All colleges and universities will have to take greater responsibility for their foreign students, and will even need a license should they wish to recruit from abroad, to help the government crack down on bogus colleges who abuse the system.
For the first time education providers face a ban on bringing over international students if they fail to follow strict new rules including alerting the UK Border Agency (UKBA) if students fail to enroll.
Foreign students must be sponsored by a UKBA-licensed education institution, prove they have the means to support themselves and their families while studying here as well as supplying their fingerprints.
Stricter rules on work placements for students will also ensure that Britain's labor market is protected.
"All those who come to Britain must play by the rules. It is right that foreign students wanting to take advantage of our world-class universities and colleges must meet strict criteria," said Border and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne.
Visas will only be granted to proven students applying for courses which meet a minimum level of qualification. Students who are on courses for longer than 12 months will have to show they have sufficient funds to pay their first year of fees, plus 9,600 pounds (some 14,965 U.S. dollars) to cover their first year in Britain. Students wishing to bring their dependants with them will need to show they have a further 535 pounds per month for each person they bring.
International students contribute 2.5 billion pounds a year to the British economy in tuition fees alone and an overall estimated contribution of 8.5 billion pounds. In recognition of the many economic and cultural benefits that these students bring to Britain, earlier this year the government announced a special visa category allowing successful international students who have graduated from a British university to work in the country for up to two years.
Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said "I will not tolerate the minority of individuals who seek to damage the quality of our education system through bogus colleges. The new system will give extra protection from the damage bogus colleges can cause."
Under the new system education providers who want to teach foreign nationals must be granted a license by the UKBA, they can then sponsor students to come to the country. Without a confirmation of acceptance for studies issued to them by their sponsoring institution a student's visa application will not be considered. It also acts as a pledge from the college or university that they accept responsibility for the student while they are in Britain.
Universities and colleges face losing their license if they fail to keep copies of all their foreign students' passports as well as their contact details. They have to alert the UKBA to any students who fail to enroll on their course and report unauthorized absences or if any student stops their studies.
The sponsorship register for colleges and universities opened for applications this week.
(Xinhua News Agency July 31, 2008)