A number of UK universities are reported to be turning away applicants from countries based on the ‘credibility’ of the area they come from. Offences are often based on graduates from the same country as applicants not leaving the UK after the end of their courses.
Stricter visa rules implemented by the Home Office are said to cut the number of overseas students in the UK by 15 per cent. They have said there is no limit to the number of ‘credible’ students wanting to study in the UK.
Speaking to The Times, the NUS International Students’ Officer Mostafa Rajaai said the move was “very unfair” and that because of this policy “prospective students from these countries have a very negative view of the UK now.”
Refusal rate for non-EU applicants over the last two years is at 9 per cent, based on nearly 250,000 credibility interviews conducted by the Home Office. Universities must reach a 10 per cent refusal rate in order to keep their sponsorship licence, prompting reports they were being forced to make more decisions based on ‘credibility’.
One source claims that “some universities were told by the Home Office to stop recruiting from certain regions, mainly in Pakistan”.
This news comes only a couple of weeks after Home Secretary Theresa May announced her plan to continue to include international students in net immigration numbers, stating they are a major factor in escalating migration numbers. Her approach has been described as “chilling and bitter” and received criticism from her fellow cabinet members and various refugee charities.
New Home Office rules and May’s plan are seemingly against the position of the prime minister. “As I’ve said before, no cap on the number of overseas who come and study at our universities,” he has said on the matter.
Overseas students make up 18 per cent of the UK student population, with 435,500 studying here in 2014. The current worth of international students is estimated to be £7bn annually.
Overall, refusal rates have dropped within the past year falling from 15 per cent at the start of 2014 to 5 per cent at the end of 2015.