The Home Office plans to introduce immigration rules to prevent Tier 4 students from switching to Tier 2 or Tier 5 visas after graduating. The new changes may mean migrants who wish to extend their leave to remain in the UK after graduating will have to return to their countries and make entry clearance applications for Tier 2 or Tier 5 visas. The new changes once implemented will affect all migrants studying in the UK on Tier 4 Visas. Further changes will ensure that migrants cannot study and work at the same time.
The decline in Tier 4 Student Applications
The UK currently hosts a large number of international students at some of its’ best Universities. For the year 2013-2014 ‘University College London hosted the largest number of international (EU and non-EU) students in the UK with a total of 11,850.’
Sources of regularly published data on international students in the UK reported the following:
- ‘The International School Council’s annual census in 2014; there were 24,391 non-British students in UK independent schools living in the UK without their parents and an additional 11,329 with parents in the UK’.
- ‘A BIS report (April 2013) estimated the numbers of Tier 4 students in public sector further education at about 10,000 – although if student visitor Visas and EEA students are included, the total number of migrant students can be assumed to be much higher’.
- ‘Another BIS report (July 2013) on privately funded higher education providers in the UK estimates that approximately half of the 160,000 students in the sector were migrants from outside the UK, 10% from the EU (16,000) and 41% from outside the EU (66,000)’.
- ‘English UK’s report on the value of the sector to local economies reports that English UK members reported 2.5 million ‘student weeks’ of activity in 2011 (as English language students come for hugely varying stays, the sector measures these by the number of student weeks, rather than numbers of students)’.
The figures above show an extremely large figure for the number of students studying in the UK. It is alarming therefore that Home Office figures for June 2015 in respect of student related grants of leave show a rapid decline in numbers with a 27% decrease in the number of Applications by migrant students. That is a drop of over 26,000 student applications by migrants.
The effect of the decline on the UK economy
Currently the Home Office ‘Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List for 2015’ lists over 30 different vocations. This includes occupations such as engineers, physical scientists and medical practitioners. The smaller the pool of migrant students the larger the skills gap will be in the UK. This will create a decline in industry specific economic growth for companies due to the much smaller of pool of talented migrant graduates. The decrease in the number of Applications by migrant students will therefore directly affect the UK economy in a negative way.
One economic area that is faced with a rapidly widening expertise shortage is that of the Animation and Games business. This area is growing in terms of the availability of educational courses for specific knowledge in technical and practical skills to provide graduates with the tools to create businesses of their own in gaming and animation. It is easy to see the negative effect for such businesses and the industry itself where there is a large expertise shortage for such courses. There is further negativity for such an industry as employers will be forced to increase salary bands just to attract the talented migrants needed. This will leave UK graduates with lesser experience having to compete with candidates who are experts in their fields due to the increased salary band. UK graduates are then likely to look abroad for jobs. Migrant graduates will also find it easier to travel to their home nation instead of switching to Tier 2 or Tier 5 Visas to work in the UK. This will lead to a huge loss of numbers in workers. Employers who are then left without workers will find it difficult to develop and grow.
The future and Migrant Students
A comparison of the UK immigration rules with Australia, Germany or Canada who allow migrant students with a period of time to seek and obtain full time work after graduating; provides a forecast of which countries will have the fastest growth in economics as a result of talented migration. The UK Government will be forced to look elsewhere when thinking about economic growth as a result of the loss of migrant workers.
Visa applications for all levels of the UK education structure will see a decline in the number of applications by migrants. This will lead to a number of difficulties not only in terms of the education sector but also as a result of the domino effect on the rest of the UK economy.
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