UK formally announces new restrictions on student visas


AP, 23-03-2011 18:32:13


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LONDON: Britain is toughening its student visa rules, closing bogus colleges and turning away students who can’t speak English well in a bid to reduce immigration, officials said on Tuesday.

The clampdown could cut the number of foreign students and their dependents by about 100,000 people a year under the plan, Home Secretary Theresa May said. ``You need to speak English to learn at our education establishments. If you can’t, we won’t give you a visa,’’ she said.

The number of foreign students coming into the country have more than trebled in the last ten years and they now account for a far larger number of incoming population than those who apply as workers or family, May said.

The minimum English proficiency for degree-level students will be raised and assessed with tests, although universities will be permitted to make their own assessments, May said.

Border Agency officers will also be given discretion to refuse entry to students who cannot speak English without an interpreter, or who are clearly below the minimum standard for university, May said.

However, students who lack the required level of English for university will still be allowed to attend preparatory courses that help them progress to university.

The measures will also limit the amount of work students and fresh graduates can undertake. Students studying at private colleges will be barred from working, while those wishing to stay in the country after their studies can only do so if they find employment that pays at least 20,000 pounds ($38,000) a year.

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