What can be done?

The campaign to cut immigration and stop asylum abuse

3. Immigration for study

The number of granted study visas in the year to September 2022

Previously, the UK had an ample and generous route for overseas students which also retained the benefit of controls that deterred fraud. Now these key controls have been jettisoned, risking the return of abuse.

It is also clear that an increasing number of overseas students are being enrolled at lower quality universities, while the share of study visa applications to higher-quality Russell group institutions fell by nine percentage points between 2019 and the year to June 2022.

Meanwhile, a look at Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data shows that the number of non-UK domiciled students enrolled in lower-quality institutions (the 60 or so universities in the bottom half of the University League Tables) has risen by 56,000 since 2016/17.

Additionally, visa applications to English language schools – amongst which abuse of study visas has been found to be rife – tripled from 2,800 in 2016 to 8,200 in the year to June 2022.

We propose the following measures:

Assess each student visa application on its merits

Interviews, which were re-introduced by the government in 2013 for 100,000 applicants per year, should be made more rigorous and expanded to every applicant in order to ensure that their intention to study, and to leave on completion of studies, is genuine.

Interviews should be conducted by officials with local knowledge so that they do not end up being little more than a formulaic box-filling exercises.

Require all students to provide documentary proof

Prospective students should also provide evidence that they have enough funds to live here and that they speak an adequate level of English, in order to obtain a student visa.

Tighten visas for student dependents

Visas for student dependents must be tightened considerablyy and post-graduate students should no longer be able to bring in family members.

Close the graduate work visa route

Currently, this route admits an unlimited number of overseas graduates into the labour market including into the lowest-paid roles, with no skill, no salary test and no need for a job offer.

This puts serious pressure on our own young people’s future employment prospects.

How can you help our campaign?

If we don’t act now, it will be too late

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