The government regularly claims that it has cracked down on hundreds of ‘bogus colleges’ offering student visas, but is that really the case? Mike Ratcliffe has looked into who really has been coming on and off the Tier 4 register.
Higher education is now at the centre of a tentative Conservative Party leadership election battle between George Osborne and Theresa May. With May ever-pandering to right-wing impulses in immigration policy, Osborne is presenting himself as a friend of universities and growth, and both are preparing the battle lines that will follow after the General Election. As universities enter the heart of this new and intense political struggle, Martin McQuillan looks at its implications for higher education.
When robustly challenged about HE and immigration policy this week, James Brokenshire MP, Minister of State for Immigration made clear that, despite growing calls for policy change, he was ruling out excluding international students from the net migration figures. But are there signs that this might change after the election? Alistair Jarvis takes a look from Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.
On Wednesday night the news broke at 10pm: the UK Border Agency confirmed the revocation of London Metropolitan University’s ‘highly trusted sponsor’ status. This means that London Met is no longer able bring in non-EU students into the UK to study under the ‘Tier 4’ visa scheme.
In fact, the move is more draconian in that such students currently studying at London Met will have their visas withdrawn: at least 2000 face deportation within 60 days of official notification, unless they can find another sponsor. Effectively they must find a place on another course at another institution.
By what extent is this disastrous episode a symptom of wider political and administrative failures? Last year’s HE white paper made it clear that the government was no longer prepared to act as the backer of last resort, perhaps making London Met’s situation even more precarious.
The immigration debate is becoming increasingly technical, with universities arguing for different OECD measures and inevitably, the need for more and better data. But this isn’t a technical or even an economic debate. Like many other issues it is about politics and the concerns of voters – informed and uninformed. We find ourselves in a corner because the Conservatives (and not their coalition partners the Lib Dems) pledged to bring down immigration from the hundreds to the tens of thousands in their last election manifesto.