Visa controls could 'block' genuine students

10 Feb 2010

The British Council has raised concerns about the impact of the new tightening of controls on overseas students.

The new controls, announced last week by the UK Border Agency following a review called by the Prime Minister, mean that students from outside the EU will have to prove they already have a certain level of fluency in English before they can come here. 

The British Council says it is "concerned that the need for ... a good standard of English before coming here to learn English will block genuine non-EU students from coming to the UK’s many excellent language schools and preparing for future study here".

It adds that the "solution must be that accredited language course providers are able to continue to sponsor student visas for long-stay students at lower levels of English.” 

Meanwhile Cambridge ESOL, the UK's largest provider of English language tests, has called on the government to ensure that only tried and tested systems with high levels of security and quality control are recognised for this purpose.

However, the exam board warns that changes announced by the Home Secretary may not reduce the number of bogus students applying for courses in the UK.
 
Cambridge ESOL's CEO Dr Michael Milanovic says “there is little evidence to suggest that the people who are abusing the system are predominantly those with a very low level of English-language skills".

He added that he was concerned that the changes could prove "unfair to a large number of genuine students, particularly those who are at an early stage in their language learning.” 

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