Student Visas - Home Affairs Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by Goldsmiths Students' Union (SV39)


These reforms may impact on international student numbers in the short term, but the lasting effects of these restrictions will be substantial and crippling to the UK. By reducing the entitlements that international students currently have and making it more difficult for them to stay on for further study and work, will diminish the attractiveness of UK Universities over others in the world. The estimated amount that international students bring to the UK economy ranges from £8.5 billion to £12.5 billion. £2.5 billion of that is generated through international students' fees. UK Universities are praised for their multicultural environments and these changes will also impact on the learning experience of Home and EU students. These changes will impact on the decisions of genuine students. The long-term damage to the UK education system must be weighed up as a critical factor hanging in the balance.

I'm the President of Goldsmiths Students' Union. My role is to represent students at Goldsmiths, and to ensure the best education and support for our current and future students.


1.  Post-study work visa to be abolished

From speaking to our International students,[59] it is clear that the current option of the Post-study work visa is an incentive to study in the UK. Not because they have the intention of attempting to indefinitely live and work in the UK but to broaden their experience. Goldsmiths is mainly an Arts and Humanities institution, and our programmes in the Arts heavily recruit international students. The Arts industry is global and to have the opportunity to work within this industry in UK would give graduates a wealth of experience and an international perspective of the workings of the industry and I am sure this would apply to many other industries. Abolishing this route would be detrimental to potential students choosing to study in the UK, loosing them to other countries with a better offering.

There are currently international students already studying in the UK with the view to apply for the PSW visas, it would be incredibly unfair to cut off this option to them midway through their courses after they have spent tens of thousands of pounds towards our universities already.

There were some international students that said these changes "would make them feel unwelcome" and they wouldn't choose to study in a country that would be happy to take their money but not want them there.

The closure of the Tier 1 Post Study Work route would contradict the 2009 conclusion of the independent Migration Advisory Committee that the Tier 1 Post Study Work route, used by approximately 10% of all international students coming to the UK, be retained.

2.  English language requirements to be raised

Pre-sessional English language courses (which are offered by our institution) provide an exceptional route & induction/integration into higher education, and play an important part in enabling the HE sector to recruit international students. We believe on both this issue and on the issue of whether students should be allowed to apply at the same level we believe this is a case of UKBA encroaching onto decisions that should be purely academic, at the discretion of the University.

3.  Going home to reapply to study in the UK

We believe that this proposal is wrong and will be financially/socially detrimental to students. Not only will students have to pay (and show that they can pay) the high prices of studying and living in the UK, they will also have to have enough money to travel back and forth to apply. This will definitely impact on the types of students that will want to continue to study in the UK. It will only be extremely wealthy students that will want or be able to.

4.  Dependents should only be allowed to come to the UK with students studying for more than one year

Not allowing dependants to come to the UK unless the student is studying for more then a year will discourage student parents to apply to study here. This would put up barriers for them to choose to come and study here. They may want to study a pre-sessional or foundation course, which are usually nine months, but students on these courses mostly progress onto another course, pouring more money into the economy.

5.  Working hours

We believe that the suggestion that students should only be allowed to work being employed by external employers at the weekend and only allowed to work on campus during the week is ludicrous and arbitrary. The cost of living particularly in London is very high, on top of that there are expenses that are course related, reading material, stationary, art material. It's hard to get a part-time job unless you are flexible, so this would put international students at a disadvantage if applying to a part-time job, when there are other more flexible candidates. Many students, international and home/EU manage to balance work and study. If you regulate where and when students can work, it will make it harder for them to afford the additional costs of study. This would affect their grades or retention rates, which will impact on the reputation of HEI's and make it harder to recruit future students.

6.  The change in ratio of placements from 50:50 to 66: 33

This is again encroaching onto academic territory and will disadvantage international students to their Home/EU counterparts.

7.  Whether admin procedures should be simplified for low risk students

We think that admin procedures should be simplified for all students. We are concerned about the separation of nationalities as a way of defining who should get a simpler process. It is extremely discriminatory. It also means that if it is harder for students from particular countries to apply then there will be a less diverse range of countries, this will lead to a culturally impoverished studying environment. The multicultural studying environment is often what the UK HE system has been praised for.

8.  Should private institutions have tougher inspection/accreditation procedures

We know from speaking to our students that inspecting international students in either a public or private institution will make them all feel like they are being treated as suspects. This would make them feel incredibly uncomfortable and unwelcome. We believe there should be tougher accreditation procedures for institutions rather then inspections on students.

9.  No more international students on courses below degree level

Around half of foreign degree students actually begin their studies here on below degree-level courses. Pre-sessional and foundation courses allow students to gain a broad knowledge base about their chosen subject area. Students are then offered places at degree level. Changing this, will not only have an impact on recruitment but also student retention. If a student is not familiar with relevant knowledge or terminology they will struggle to keep up with the course.


  • For the Tier 1 Post Study Work route to be retained.
  • English language requirements to be determined by University Academics.
  • Students should not be required to leave the UK to re-apply
  • Students should be allowed to be accompanied by their dependants if enrolled on a course of 6 months or longer (current regulation).
  • International students should be able to work when they are able to around their studies.
  • The ratio of placements to remain as they are and be reviewed by University Academics.
  • Admin procedure should be that same for all and not discriminated against by their country of residence/origin.
  • There should be tougher accreditation procedures for institutions rather then inspections on students.
  • International students should be allowed to apply to courses below degree level.

January 2011

59   720 international students of a total of 7,800 students at Goldsmiths-HESA 08/09. Back

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 25 March 2011