The government has announced a consultation on policies regarding international students.
Included in the proposals, which many have described as a crackdown, are potential plans to introduce a £140m fund to “control migration” as well as plans to limit work visas and enforce stricter regulations on students applying to lower ranked universities and courses.
Reducing the number of international students has come as part of a wider scheme to reduce net migration into the UK to a “sustainable level.”
The proposals, outlined over the Conservative Party conference, by figures such as Home Secretary Amber Rudd are also based on linking student immigration to quality of both university and course for the first time. The goal would be to allow only the best students study at reputable institutions in the UK.
Ms Rudd has suggested a multi-tiered student visa system, with the rights for students to bring families as well as the rights to achieve a working visa after and the right to come to the university without passing an English language test linked to the quality of the course and the university they attended.
Similar quality tied-immigration ideas have previously been suggested by Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s Chief of Staff, who has suggested the right of international students to work in Britain after graduating should be limited to those who attend Oxbridge and Russell Group universities. Such proposals, if implemented, would not include international students studying at St Andrews.
Further reforms have also been proposed on improving standards of English proficiency of applying international students, to ensure that students can assimilate and function successfully within British society.
Ms Rudd has said, “foreign students, even those studying English Language degrees, don’t even have to be proficient in speaking English.” She wants to implement stricter testing and levels of acceptance to make sure that “students that come here, come to study.”
Many politicians and academics, such as Birmingham University’s Vice Chancellor Lord Bilimoria, have condemned Ms Rudd’s proposal, with critics denouncing it as ill informed and damaging to the quality and diversity of British universities.
The University of St Andrews has declined to comment.
Ms Rudd has argued that she does believe immigration is a “good thing,” but wants to “make sure we have got control.”
The Students’ Representative Council’s member for racial equality, Halima Mohammad, criticised the proposals.
“St Andrews is a university that has always been proud of its growing number of international students and while I do believe new legislation will make it harder for international students to attend the university, I’m sure everyone will work hard to keep our numbers for international students stable and growing,” she said.
Ms Mohammad went on to say that, “While the problem of attracting overseas students may not be a problem now in the near future it will be because since Brexit the United Kingdom rates for hate crime have increased therefore instilling a slight sense of fear for foreigners coming into the UK. St Andrews is a welcoming and open community.
“While no place is perfect I do not feel animosity is present within the community towards international students”