Britain’s new Prime Minister, Theresa May is set re-examine the amount of student visas being granted to UK university applicants in a new bid to decrease immigration numbers.

Ms May is reportedly currently going through the process of preparing her new government cabinet to tighten the rules on higher education institutions, under her claims that it’s turned into an easy route for economic migrants to enter into the country.

Sources from the Government have claimed that the Home Office and the Department for Education will both scrutinise the student visa regime and analyse the criteria to identify where they can make changes.

During Ms May’s time as Home Secretary, she attempted to limit the number visas for those who came to study on university courses. In a private letter she issued to other ministers, Ms May raised the issue that universities should aim to ‘develop sustainable funding models that are not so dependent on international students.’ However, it was during that time that she allegedly was at fault for the wrongful deportation of 48,000 international students following an English test scam in one centre that was in turn used to incriminate all who sat the exam across the nation. This story, we which previously covered, revealed that the Upper Tribunal (Asylum & Immigration) ruled that her evidence suffered from several holes, with the Tribunal stating it had ‘multiple frailties and shortcomings’.

The international Officer for the (NUS) National Union of Students, Mostafa Rajaai was this week quoted in his response to the news. He said ‘Thanks to Theresa May’s approach to international students while she was in charge of the Home Office, we have witnessed, for the first time in 30 years, a drop in the number of international students coming to the UK. This is while the number of internationally mobile students has been rising year on year… As it stands, the British student visa regime is one of the toughest and least welcoming in the world. By tightening it further, the Higher Education sector will lose out on hundreds of thousands of international students choosing other countries over the UK.’

The areas of the process that are under review are centred around the following:

  • Stricter controls on the deemed ‘Micky Mouse’ degrees at lower performing further education institutions.
  • New protocols to ensure students return home after their studies.
  • The restriction of universities marketing their courses as opportunities for migrants to work in the country.

Before Ms May decided to sack previous Chancellor – George Osborne – he as well as officials at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (a department which May has now closed down as well) attempted to resist her efforts to introduce student restrictions because they viewed international students as beneficial to the economy and for universities, given their higher rate of tuition fees. They even called for students to be removed from official immigration statistics.

It was also interestingly revealed this week, that according to a government report, the economy as a whole would gain £1 billion from an added 55,000 foreign students who would in fact be migrating to the UK each year.

The Home Office currently estimate that 20% of foreign students illegally overstay their visa period.