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International students to face stricter UK study rules


Recent developments in the UK have caused uproar among the electorate and dismay within the international student community. In an attempt to combat the global recession, the new coalition government have unveiled plans to raise tuition fees across the board. Amid accusations of elitism and protests by students for the right to an education that is affordable for all, what does this mean for international students who are planning to come to the UK? Kristina Khoo is a Malaysian studying journalism in London and provides her perspective on recent events.

In 2010, the UK government raised tuition fees from £3,250 to £6,000 per year for domestic students and created a feeling of unrest amongst applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many institutions in the UK have since stated their intention to set the maximum £9,000 fees for tuition in 2012. Most importantly, those UK citizens who voted the Liberal Democrats into power were promised that there would be no hike in student fees. They have been incensed by this new development. The country has seen students protesting and numerous debates on this issue, but it is very unlikely that the government will drop its plans to raise university fees.

Rising fees
This is bad news for international students, who are already paying about £10,000 a year - triple that a home student pays. When fees for British students increase, international students can expect to pay a lot more, if not at least twice what we are already paying at the moment. Does that mean a figure of about £18,000 a year?

Stricter visa control
The government has also announced earlier this year that there will be tougher rules to stop people from abusing the student visa system. Cases of students coming in to the UK on a student visa but end up working illegally have caused major concerns. There are also instances in which students have overstayed their visa. Although the Home Office has not confirmed, the changes made are expected to cut tens of thousands of visas, with applications from Nepal, northern India and Bangladesh receiving the brunt of the backlash early this year.
International students will have to brace themselves for:

- Stricter visa application procedure that may require specific documents
- Intense questioning by officers at immigration control
- Good attendance at education institution as university authorities will report long absences to the UK immigration

What does the future hold?
It would not come as a surprise if student visas for international students face further cuts which would make it more difficult for students to pursue studies in the UK. Would it be naive to expect that the current post study visa which most students look forward to applying after graduation, might have stricter rules or even be scrapped altogether? If education will see the increment of fees, should students who wish to study in the UK try to further their studies now rather than wait a couple more years? It is undeniable that UK education will one day be solely privileged to the very rich and where does that leave the majority of talented smart students who may not be as well off?

In the past couple of weeks, the government has stated its intentions to reduce the number of international students who are permitted entry into the British education system, including constraints on the working options that those students have available to them. For the latest information, there's a very good article that was published on the Guardian website. To view this info, click here.

England has by no means closed its borders to international students and you should remember that the attitude of the government in this issue is not necessarily a representation of wider opinion among the populace. Universities, employers and the public remain just as welcoming as ever to international visitors, but the entry process for students is certainly becoming more competitive. The best advice we can give is to confirm your offers from UK universities, keep up to date with changes in the political landscape and keep checking Hotcourses for any new developments.

Useful links:

UK Council for International Student Affairs

UK Border Agency

The Guardian Newspaper's website




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