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More restrictions for non-EU students in UK – ESU warns of danger to education and economy

Тhe UK government  announced new changes to Tier 4 visas which will impose more limitations and restrictions for international students. The right of non-EU college students to work in the UK  whilst studying will be removed and international students will be forced to leave the country immediately upon graduation. European Students’ Union (ESU) is disappointed to see such a proposal that will severely affect the situation of international students in the UK and feed into brain gain and brain drain causing a damage for education and economy.


The statement from the Home Office announcing these changes includes a ban on the dependants of international students working whilst in the UK, restrictions on the right of international students to change courses, as well as restrictions on college students being able to work whilst studying and forcing them to leave the country to apply for any new visas at the end of their course. These changes come after policy changes already seen in the UK over the last five years which include the removal of the post-study visa route, a new NHS levy charged to international students, and new requirements on landlords to check the immigration status of all their tenants.
This constitutes a realisation of the British anti-migration policies that has become mainstream over the past years– in the government’s efforts to make cuts to net-migration figures, international students rights to health, housing and education have been gradually limited.

Mobility has become an integral part of higher education and a natural consequence for the globalised world, where graduates are expected to master skills to work in a multicultural, multilingual and international environment. Solidarity, responsibility, diversity and cooperation should be the main concerns in the development of an international environment both within higher education systems in the European Union and beyond.

“We urge the representatives of the UK parliament not to support the proposal as it stands if they want  to ensure a just process for third country nationals to access higher education and work in the UK.”- said Fernando Galan, Chairperson of ESU.

The National Union of Students in the UK (NUS UK) International Students’ Officer, Mostafa Rajaai said: “We are in no doubt that these attacks are part of a much bigger attack on migrants and their rights in the UK. We will be working with pro-migration organisations, international students and alongside home and EU students to fight these measures. “

Visas and residency permits are among the largest obstacles for mobility and for the integration and employment opportunities of international and mobile students. Bureaucracy and inconsistency in immigration procedures have to be decreased to ensure participation and mobility of those non-EU students that are involved in the Bologna Process, such as the Western-Balkans, Eastern Europe and Southern Caucasus. International students need to have the same working rights as domestic students. Application procedure has to be free of discriminatory and biased evaluation and only an accredited education institutions should be granted the right to evaluate the capacity of non-European students to enroll and therefore stay in the hosting country for education purposes.

‘The conditions for residency have to be flexible, with the residency permit lasting for at least 12 months after graduation. All of the graduates need to have a real opportunity to find employment in the host country.’ underlines Galan.


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