Student Visa Restrictions: Are they Worth it?

Student visas have been a huge topic of conversation in recent months with the Coalition Government aiming to reduce the number of student visas by 75,000 a year. This new scheme has a two-fold justification; firstly, it is believed that many individuals with student visas are actually abusing the system and working instead. This is to be combatted not only by tightening the controls on students entering but by also making the limits on when and how often they can work stricter. There will also be more restrictions on their dependents joining them and there will be a requirement to prove a certain standard of English language competency before receiving approval. Secondly this will reduce immigration as a whole which was a key Conservative election pledge. Those approved for student visas will also be limited in the amount of years they are permitted to remain in the UK after completing their studies. In light of recent events, however, a third justification can be seen. The threat of terrorism is ever present; the government rightly fears it and any extra measures to combat it are readily welcomed. It is not just the UK that feels the need to tighten controls on student visas and one “student” who was in the US illegally under false pretences has just been indicted of threatening to assassinate President Obama.

President of the United States of America

The President has had to face threats from illegal immigrants.

His student visa had been revoked earlier this year when it was apparent that he actually had not enrolled on an educational course. It is these cases that underline the importance of strictest controls but we must not forget the importance of true international students. They bring further diversity to our universities, aid our economy and their contribution should not be underestimated.

This said, the new policy has no intention to hinder those true students who will be a benefit and wish to learn. Many universities have responded positively to the new measures realising that genuine international students will still be welcomed with open arms as we are a globalised nation. Warwick University, one of the top recruiters of international students was quoted to say that the new restrictions are “targeting bogus students at bogus colleges, not the brightest and the best students”.

This, I am sure, will be reassuring news to our Prime Minister as recently many individuals, institutions and MPs have been saying that these new restrictions are being rushed and not enough time has been taken for adequate consultation. The figure £2.4 billion net loss to our economy has been quoted and many are questioning whether it is worth it. The answer to this question depends on the justification for the loss being used; in terms of cutting immigration this is estimated to reach the two hundred and thirty thousand figure by the end of this parliamentary term. Is this worth it? £2.4 billion for 230,000 less immigrants? I’m not so sure. However, when we instead view the money as not just restricting immigration but also restricting the threat of terrorism and stopping illegal immigrants abusing the system then the figure will not be viewed as quite so ridiculous.

It has got to be asked though, where are the Liberal Democrats in this Coalition? The Nick Clegg that was determined to show more back-bone seems to have disappeared as fast as he arrived. The Liberal Democrats who want an amnesty for illegal immigrants who have successfully lived here for 10 years to be able to become true British citizens also seem to have realised that we do not like to reward illegal actions.

I believe I am in the majority in my beliefs that multiculturalism aids the UK, can decrease racism and ignorance by increasing knowledge and brings the UK new aspects of culture including food, music and lifestyle. However, systems are in place for a reason and the abuse that has been commonplace makes a mockery of our immigration system even when you do not consider the threat to national security that this can pose. Genuine students should be welcomed with open arms but this does not mean we have to compromise on security. As for the financial cost; I can only pose the question: are the student visa restrictions worth it in your eyes?


Posted on July 31, 2011, in Coalition Government, Comment, Conservative Party, Liberal Democrat Party, Party Politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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