London: Britain on Tuesday introduced a new visa regime for Indian and other students of non-European Union countries to prevent fraud and to provide for more stringent immigration checks.
Home secretary Jacqui Smith said the new arrangements as part of Tier 4 of the points based system will make the visa process simpler, more objective and more transparent for applicants and prevent abuse of the immigration system.
From Tuesday, all British education providers (schools, colleges, universities) who recruit international students need to be registered with the UK Border Agency.
More than 2,100 universities, independent schools and colleges have applied to be licensed sponsors. The institutions are responsible for ensuring that international students comply with the conditions of their visas while they are in the UK.
Before a student makes a visa application, he needs to ensure that he has an unconditional offer of a study place from a licensed education provider.
The student also needs to show that he has sufficient funds to cover course fees and living costs during his studies. The student will be issued with a visa for study at a particular institution, and for the full duration of his course if degree level or above.
In 2008, almost 29,000 Indian students received visas to study in the UK. This represents a 30% increase on 2007 figures.
Smith said: “These new measures make sure people who come here to study — and the people who teach them — play by the rules. This new tier of the points based system allows us to know exactly who is coming to the UK to study and crack down on bogus colleges”.
Professor Mary Ritter, Pro Rector, International Affairs, at Imperial College London said: “International students play a big part in making Imperial the dynamic and exciting place it is, and we feel very fortunate that so many motivated, highly talented people from around the world want to pursue their studies here”.