Student Visas - Home Affairs Committee Contents


Written evidence submitted Queensland College, London (SV7)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Queensland College welcomes restrictions which contribute to a reduction in abuse of the student route, but is opposed to changes which deter genuine students, or damage legitimate, good quality colleges.

RECOMMENDATION

All Private Providers admitting international students should be required to have a College Council or Governing Body with external representation. This would enhance public confidence in the quality and standards of their educational provision and in their compliance with regulatory requirements.

COMMENTARY ON SPECIFIC POINTS

1.  Whether the cuts should be limited to certain types of courses (e.g. pre-degree level)

  • Cuts should be limited to courses which can easily be found in the students' home countries.
  • The criteria for permitting a course to be accessible to overseas students should be based on the quality of the course, as decided by external adjudicating bodies, rather than by level.

2.  The impact different levels of cuts might have on the various sectors

  • Cuts in some low level courses could help to remove some 'bogus' colleges, which would be welcome.

3.  The impact, if any, that reductions in student visas might have on the UK's standing in the world

  • There is a long-standing tradition of international students coming to the UK for legitimate study. This has been of benefit to the UK as well as to the country of origin. An across-the-board reduction in student visas would certainly damage the UK's standing in the world.
  • The key point is that the education provided should be of the highest quality. We recommend the strengthening of BAC powers to ensure that this is the case.

4.  Whether cuts in student visas would have any effect on the decisions of highly qualified graduates to conduct research or take up teaching posts in the UK

  • This is difficult to quantify, but international graduates can certainly contribute greatly to standards of knowledge and education in the UK. It would be regrettable if well-qualified students were discouraged from coming to the UK, especially in cases where their skills could not be matched from the home student population.

5.  Whether the post study route should be continued.

  • The PSW route could continue, but should be explicitly controlled. The granting of a PSW visa should be linked to a specific job or sponsor, to ensure that the work done is relevant to the completed course of study.

6.  The educational routes through which students come to the UK to study at degree level

  • Colleges should only be permitted to use licensed agents from overseas.
  • The educational level of prospective students should be properly assessed—sponsors should be expected to use NARIC to ensure thorough and accurate verification of overseas qualifications.

7.  International comparisons—no comment

EXPLANATION OF RECOMMENDATION

The current BAC accreditation criteria do not specifically require Colleges to have a Governing Body or Council and there is currently variable practice on this. A requirement for Colleges to have such a body, with external members, would strengthen governance and thereby extend confidence across the sector.

CONCLUDING COMMENT

Study in the UK by legitimate students brings economic benefits and enhances the UK's cultural and political influence in the world. It is important that international students coming to study in the UK have an educational experience of high quality. Restrictions on the operation of private international students should be related to the quality, rather than the level, of their educational provision.

January 2011



 
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Prepared 25 March 2011