UK Student Visa policy
Reflecting on Politics, Policy and Practice
Topic (chosen policy) – UK STUDENT VISAS
The essay is divided into two
|Number of Assessments||Form of Assessment||% weighting||Word-count||Learning Outcomes being assessed||Feedback Method|
|1||Policy summary paper||40%||1000 words||1-4||Written|
|2||Analysis of an issue, leading to a policy recommendation||60%||3000 words||1-4||Written|
- The policy summary paper should be concise and precise. Concrete in analysing student visas in the UK
Explain the development of student visa policies
The main challenges, biases and opportunities in formulating and implementing these policies.
Policy implementation; policy impact evaluation, and feedback into new policy alternatives
- The second paper which is 3000 words is the proper analysis of student visas in the UK
Analyse the policies, define its problems such as biases and consequences of its implementation.
Debate recent changes in British legislature concerning student visas (discussing reasons behind those changes)
The tensions between social, political and economic choices, and the social costs and benefits arising from these choices.
|On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:|
|1.||Demonstrate a critical appreciation of processes of policy analysis, from problem definition to policy implementation.|
|2.||Identify and critically evaluate the main challenges and opportunities in formulating and implementing policies.|
|3.||Explore and evaluate the tensions between social, political and economic choices, and the social costs and benefits arising from these choices.|
|4.||Critically assess and discuss the linkages between policies at macro, meso and micro levels.|
UK Student Visa policy
- Policy Summary Paper – Analysing UK Student Visas
International students wishing to study in the UK have to meet the guidelines stated in UK Student Visa Policy. The policy provides for short-term study visa, tier 4 (Child) and (General) student visa. The different visa guidelines offer guidance for the application of student visa, requirements, and the rules and regulations surrounding the whole process. The development of student visa policies from the process of formulation to the implementation process is critical. The government focuses on the effective implementation of the policy to ensure it continues to enjoy the benefits of the process while giving the students a chance to achieve their goals. However, challenges are inevitable. In the development of the UK student visa policies, there are various concerns of biases among other challenges. This paper discusses the development of the student policies, the challenges, biases and opportunities in the formulation and implementation of the policies. Further, it offers policy impact evaluation and discusses the feedback into the new policy alternatives.
The UK short-term and Tier 4 policies only give eligible applicants visas. The eligibility process requires the applicants to prove that they have been offered the opportunity to study a course in the UK, have the financial ability to support self, and the ability to personally pay for the return/onward journey (GOV.UK, 2016; GOV.UK, 2016). Persons under 18 must show evidence of parent approval and have arrangements for travel and stay in the country. Additionally, the applicants must have all the essential documents and pass medical tests. The policies provide for the extension of the visas (Government of UK, 2016). Further, the policies allow the change of the visas to a different visa provided the applicants meets all the eligibility requirements. Apart from the aforementioned, the Home Office limits the time of study to five years for undergraduate and Master’s level education and requires any student who wishes to further their education in the UK to show prove of academic progression (University of Cambridge, 2016).
In 2011, different proposals were given for the amendment of the student visa policy to integrate measures for controlling immigration and preventing students from exposure to low quality education. The move was motivated by a growing concern that the existing student-visa program did little to control immigration effectively and failed to protect its legitimate beneficiaries from poor-quality colleges. According to Labi (2011), critics of the system argued that the existing policy allows many bogus institutions in the country to operate thus exposing legitimate students to low-quality education. The need for the development of a system that minimizes the concern of immigration is of significant importance. However, the system should alleviate cases of poor-quality education institutions operating and exploiting international students. As such, as a report by the Universities UK (2011) asserted, there is a need for the inclusion of new clauses in the existing policies to effectively address the concerns raised by different institutions and individuals in the country.
The proposed policy alternatives focused on ensuring controlled immigration and quality education provision. The policies stipulated that any student entering the UK to pursue degree-level education should demonstrate a greater level of proficiency in English than the previous policies demanded (Great Britain Parliament, House of Commons., 2013; Labi, 2011). The policies demanded that the immigration staff deny students who cannot communicate effectively in English entry. According to the Home Office, Students who, for instance, could not communicate without the assistance of an interpreter would be refused entry for not meeting the requirement standards (Great Britain Parliament; House of Commons; Home Affairs Committee, 2011). Additionally, the policies suggested would limit the ability of the foreign students to bring their family members into the country. While the existing policies allowed all the students to bring dependents along with them, the alternatives argued for ensuring that only graduate students enrolled at universities and students sponsored by the government would be the only ones allowed to bring dependents (Labi, 2011).
Further from the aforementioned, the new rules developed give students at public ‘further education’ colleges and universities the right to work while pursuing their academic goals. Over the years, concerns have been raised about the foreign students who work and continue working after completion of their studies (Labi, 2011). The immigration policy contesters argue for the development of new and effective measures that will eliminate the post-study work route, which allows the foreign students to stay in UK for two years after the completion of their education to search for and work in the country (Labi, 2011; The Scottish Government, 2016). The new development in the Britain student visa policy is that students will retain the right to work during the course of their study while all the rest will be denied the chance to seek employment after education (Great Britain Parliament; House of Commons; Home Affairs Committee, 2011). Further, the proposition calls for the imposition of new restrictions on the issue of work placements for students taking course outside the universities. The development in the policies will influence the whole process significantly.
The various alternatives
proposed for the improvement of the existing student visa policies have received
wide criticism and acclaim. The Universities UK takes a strong stance against
some of the proposed alternatives. As the representative organization of the British
vice chancellors, continues to lobby against the restrictive measures. The Universities
UK argues that the alternatives propositions are strict and that allowing
students to work in the UK is essentially important in attracting students. Additionally,
the organization argues that denying the students the chance to work in the
country is a severe competitive disadvantage to the UK when compared to countries
such as the US, Canada, and Australia among others (Universities UK, 2011). The Russell Group
supports the argument and adds that implementation of lesser restrictive
measures plays a significant role to attract the best students who play a
critical role in promoting the competitiveness of the country. While this is
the case, the National Union of Students in the UK argued that the highly
restrictive alternatives would be a huge disincentive to talented foreign students
choosing UK to further their education (The Scottish Government, 2016).
- Analysis of UK Student Visa
The UK student visa policies are under constant development. Key government institutions and stakeholders continue to push for the development of policies that consider the concerns of the UK citizens, prioritizes the interests of the country, and pushes for the rights and concerns of the international students (Great Britain Parliament – House of Commons, 2011). The issue of students and immigration continues to influence the formulation, development, and implementation of the policies significantly. In the past few years, the government has amended the policies in the quest to address the concerns of immigration. For instance, in 2012, the post-study work visa, was scrapped denying student the international (mainly non-EU) students the right to stay and work in the UK for up to two years as the previous policy stipulated. The government focuses on the implementation of the new changes which allow the students to stay up to four months in the country after the completion of their course(s). Since its implementation, this development has influenced the rate of entry into the UK by foreign students (Gil & Wakefield, 2015).
In the course of the integration of the new laws that scrapped off the post-study work visa for students in 2012, there were several suggestions targeting the elimination of uncontrolled migration. According to Gil and Wakefield (2015) and Universities UK (2011), there were plans for the expulsion of students from the UK immediately after the completion of their studies. The Home Secretary, Theresa May (also a Conservative party politician), argued that there was a need for the expulsion of the students to minimize the increasing number of foreign students living in the country. May argued for that only a small percentage of the foreign students leave after the completion of their studies and cited research that the country will experience more than 600 000 international students by 2020, up from the current 121 000. The concern that only 51 000 students of the 121 000 who entered the UK as students left after the completion of their courses pushed the secretary to the development of the recommendation (Gil & Wakefield, 2015; Travis, 2015). However, the proposition was opposed by key business persons and leaders including James Dyson and thus its rejection.
Scrapping the post-study work visa was followed by the implementation of the Immigration Act. The Immigration Act became law thus influencing the student visa policies in the UK significantly. The Act touches on various issues such as residential tenancies, working and immigration skills charge, bank accounts, driving licences, and temporary admission and temporary release among others. However, the greatest influence on the student visa policy and the international students comes from its provision on the issue of health care. The Immigration Act asserts that some foreign students should pay for benefit from the services of the NHS. Students whose host countries are not within the European European Area currently pay the suggested health surcharge to qualify for a study visa. In light of the new development, every student pays £150 per year of their visa or £75 for part of years of below six months (BBC, 2013). The process influences the process and has since its inception caused a decrease in the number of students visiting the UK for study. Therefore, as Universities UK (2011) asserts, the application of the stricter restrictions serves as a disincentive for foreign students.
Another critical development that continues to influence the student visa policies in the UK is the rising amount of money that foreign students pay to attend the UK universities. International students are charged huge amounts for the same courses that UK and EU member country students pay relatively small amounts. As BBC (2013) points out, students coming from other countries pay up to four times the amount paid by UK and EU students studying in the UK for the same courses. For example, some undergraduate students are required to pay almost £35 000 a year for the same courses that UK and EU students pay a maximum of £9 000. The case is the same even in more than half of the UK universities which charge as less as £6 000 for UK and EU students (BBC, 2013). The National Union of Students argues that the international students are treated as ‘cash cows’ and calls for the reduction of the fees they are supposed to pay for the same courses as their counterparts from EU countries and the UK (Gil & Wakefield, 2015).
Policies that make foreign students to pay higher fees compared to EU and UK students have a great impact on the movement of students into the country. According to a study by the Universities UK, many foreign students do not feel welcome in the UK due to the existing strict policies. The organization argues that the strict laws do not limit or control illegal immigration but rather prevents talented students from across the world, who play a critical role towards the socio-economic development of the country from choosing the UK. A study conducted by the National Union of Students (NUS) states that approximately 50 percent of 3,100 international students in the UK in 2013 felt unwelcome in the UK. While this is the case, 19 percent of the participants said that they cannot recommend the UK as place of study to anyone they know. The concerns raised by the different organizations regarding the strict student visa policies have in the recent past been echoed by reducing numbers of international students in the UK. According to Gil and Wakefield (2015), the number of Indian students who chose UK universities decreased by 25 percent in 2012/2013. Most international students have in the recent past opted to study in the US, Canada, or Australia among other countries.
Student Visa Policies and Politics
The development of the student visa policies has influenced various political arguments and concerns in the political environment of the UK. The different parties in the country have reacted differently to the developments made in the student visa policies. The politicians from the Labour Party continue pushing for the development of a tighter visa system in the UK (Labour Party, 2016). They cite the current system too loose and argue that it encourages increased movement of immigrants, legal and illegal, into the country. The Party is pushing for systems that deal with concerns of abuse of study visas (Labour Party, 2016; Gil & Wakefield, 2015). According to a report by the Party, the existing policies allow international students to live in the UK even after the completion of their courses. Additionally, the system makes it possible for immigrants to enter the country illegally. The development of stricter policies, as the Party argues, will ensure the removal of students from the net immigration numbers and deal with the issue of abuse of the study visas (Gil & Wakefield, 2015).
The Conservative Party, Lib Dems, the Green Party, and Ukip have also raised concerns about the current study visa policies and the development made in the policies (Gil & Wakefield, 2015). The different parties argue for a need for a review of the system to address various concerns. According to Conservatives, the student visa system should be reviewed to reduce cases of abuse. They support the argument presented by the Labour Party that the current system has created an extensive room for abuse. The Lib Dems, on the other hand, assert that a critical concern about the post-study work policies (Gil & Wakefield, 2015). They assert that there is a need for the review of the system to give science/engineering graduates post-study visas if they find employment within the first six months after completion of their courses. While this is the case, the Green Party and Ukip do not want international students to experience restrictions. According to the parties, the students should pay the same tuition fees as UK and EU students and enjoy the same high-quality services (Green Party, 2015).
Most of the political parties in the UK argue that tightening the immigration laws and enhancing restrictions on student visa policies makes the students feel like outsiders. The system should ensure that students from various countries interact effectively for enhanced social development (Burns, 2016). Making laws that make the students feel unwelcome, stereotype them as rich, or portray them as different only hinder the effective social integration and interaction the institutions work to develop (Travis, 2011). These issues attach stigma to being a foreign student in the UK and thus influence the movement of international students to the country greatly. Most students are currently choosing different countries causing a decrease in the percentage of international students in the UK (HESA, 2016; Labour Party, 2016).
Socio-economic Concerns Connected to the UK Student Visa Policies
Foreign students are academic, economic, social, and cultural assets critical for the development of the UK. The contribution of these students in the various sectors is vital and enhances trade, cultural activities, and diplomatic ties (Universities UK, 2011; House of Commons, 2012). The promotion and support of the universities’ international activities plays a significant role in the confirmation of the quality of education in the UK, and presenting the university-system as world class (GOV.UK, 2014). The development of an efficient UK student visa policy improves the reputation of the UK universities as providers of high-quality education. The country has in the past managed to attract and recruit international students effectively thus benefitting from the process immensely (Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons, 2014). The restrictions on student visa will damage the reputation and deny the country the maximum benefits of having international students (Altbach, 2016; Home Affairs Committee, 2011). Established competitors such as Germany, France, the US, China, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada among others will continue to compete for and attract international talent. As such, there is a need to reconsider the restrictions placed on the student visas and their mobility (Universities UK, 2011).
In the development of the student visa policies, the consideration of the socio-economic impact of international students in the country and the influence of the restrictions is critical. According to Universities UK, foreign students in the UK influence socio-economic development greatly (Universities UK, 2011). The creation of restrictions on the recruitment and admission of foreign students will have diverse effects. The restrictions will impact negatively on the success of universities in the country. The institution argues that universities around the globe are on a constant move towards development of academic reputation to attract students from various countries (Ennew & Greenaway, 2012). The development and maintenance of a positive international reputation is critical for the process. The development of restrictions in the UK student visa policy communicates differently. Foreign students will continue to view the country and its educational institutions as unwelcoming and opt for different institutions. Foreign students strengthen the UK’s university and entire education sector and its economy. Therefore, placing restrictions that portray it as unwelcoming will cause a significant impact, eventually damaging one of its most developed sectors. This will come at high social and economic costs (Triandafyllidou & Isaakyan, 2015; Great Britain Parliament – House of Commons, 2011).
The presence of international students in the UK plays a significant role in the development of the economy. Therefore, there is a need for the development of student visa policies that consider this concern and seek to promote economic development. The development of favourable policies or the placement of restrictions on the policies has great impacts on the economy. The UK higher education sector influences the economic growth of the country significantly. According to Universities UK and HESA, the sector generated more than £73 billion in 2011-2012 directly or indirectly. The output played an important role in the development of the economy. The higher education improves employment in the UK by offering direct job opportunities or by preparing students to compete effectively in the job market. Universities in the UK have employed approximately 380 000 people and its contribution in the academics, social, economic and political environment influences spending, socio-economic development, human development, and the overall development of the country (GOV.UK, 2014; Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons, 2014).
A research done by Universities UK shows that international students in the UK have a significant economic impact. EU and non-EU students influence different sectors of the country’s economy, and thus shape its economic development. According to the research, the higher education sector attracts more than 400 000 students from around the world (Universities UK, 2014). The student expenditure serves a great role in influencing the growth of the economy. For instance, in 2011/2012, the student expenditure from international students contributed £4.4 billion. This expenditure was from accommodation and fees (Universities UK, 2014). Further expenditure, jobs creations, and other direct contributions play a major role in enhancing output generation. The consideration of the contribution of the students should push the government to consider working on development of policies that make the life and wellbeing of the students. Laws that make them feel unwelcome and stereotyped should be re-examined. Focusing on placing restrictions on the student visa policy will harm the choice of UK as an education destination and thus impact negatively on the economy (Home Affairs Committee, 2011).
Implementation Concerns and Recommendations
The Government of UK focuses on the reduction of the number of foreign students in the country through restrictions on student visa policies. The processes of recruitment, admission of students, and progression into the education system will face greater restrictions than before. However, according to the Universities UK, most restrictions are developed based on flawed and limited data and, therefore, are inappropriate and impossible to implement in practice. Raising the communication competence bar in the recruitment of students and changing the work policies for students will only attract negative reaction from international students and thus damage the reputation the country has built for decades (Universities UK, 2011).
Data limitation in UK universities is a key impediment in the implementation of the student visa policy. Opponents of the new development in the student visa policy argue that the categorization of students as migrants and the data inspiring the development of restrictions is flawed. This continues to pose a challenge in the implementation of the improvements. According to Altbach (2016) and a report by Great Britain Parliament, House of Commons, and the Home Affairs Committee (2011) shows that the efforts to implement the policies are frustrated by groups and institutions preventing it from this reference. The Government of UK needs to consider investing on further research and data analysis to outline the challenges and develop policies that consider the wellbeing of all parties affected directly or indirectly by the developments. The Universities UK asserts that there is a need to analyse the visa, migration, and the passenger survey data. The National Union of Students, the Universities UK, and different political parties argue for the need to consider the negative impact the restrictions may have on the UK, its reputation, and the economy. The influence of these bodies continue to prevent the full implementation of the tighter UK student visa policies (Triandafyllidou & Isaakyan, 2015; Great Britain Parliament, House of Commons., 2013) (Universities UK, 2011).
Policy development concerning student visas in the UK should follow a systematic process that involves efficient planning, development, and implementation. The process should consider all the concerns raised, the main challenges and involve all the relevant parties. The efficiency of the system in the improvement of the reputation of the UK, the socio-economic development of the country, and the wellbeing of all students should be prioritized (Universities UK, 2011).
The development of measures to minimize the abuse of student visas is critical. The Government should set measures in place for the identification and prevention of fraudulent behaviour in the system. There is a need for the improvement of accreditation and the inspection standards of the assurance of credibility, quality, and transparency in all processes (Great Britain Parliament, House of Commons, 2013; Universities UK, 2011). The bodies involved in all the processes should be accredited and empowered to perform their duties diligently and efficiently. Strengthening the accreditation system will play a significant role in the improvement of the effectiveness of the student visa system (Universities UK, 2011). Other measures are also important for strengthening the system. However, the Government should focus on ensuring that the measures should have as minimal negative impacts as possible. An important process in the reduction of abuse is the enhancement of consultation with key stakeholders in the country (Altbach, 2016; Triandafyllidou & Isaakyan, 2015).
investigation of the short-term and tier 4 student visa policies of the UK is
important for the determination of the key changes needed for improved
efficiency and sustainable improvement. The Government of the UK should
consider setting up efficient procedures, processes and systems for the
assurance of effectiveness in all processes. The major concerns about the
system is the issues of abuse and fraudulent activities. Different parties call
for the continued implementation of restrictive and tight to prevent entry of
persons who are not eligible into the country. Concerns of increased and
illegal immigration show the need for more effective systems. However, in the
implementation of the policies and measures, different issues must be
considered. The Government should engage in efficient research and data
analysis to ensure a clearer understanding of the issues of concerns and the
most effective measures to implement. Moreover, the Government should consider
the welfare of international students and set measures that make them feel
welcome. Additionally, it should ensure that all the developments implemented take
into consideration the interests of the UK, protect its reputation in the
international platform, and work towards socio-economic and human development. Emphasis
should be placed on addressing the major challenges in the development and
implementation of the policies and all the improvements that may have
significant negative impacts on the country.
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