Foreign students studying in the UK may be forced to leave the country immediately upon completion of their course under new government proposals.
Home Secretary Theresa May would like the Conservatives to include a measure which would force students from non-EU countries to leave the UK before applying for a work visa in their party manifesto ahead of the general election next year.
Under current rules most students can apply for a work visa while still living in the UK.
According to a source quoted in The Independent, the Home Secretary is also pressing for the power to be able to penalise colleges and universities that would have low success rates in ensuring the departure of foreign graduates and to deprive them of their right to sponsor overseas students.
The plans have been met with disdain from many quarters, with the Conservatives current coalition partners the Liberal Democrats moving to distance themselves from the plans and may universities and British businesses also questioning the wisdom of such a measure.
“We certainly wouldn’t support this measure,” said a spokesperson for the Institute of Directors. “It doesn’t make any sense to chuck them out once they’ve acquired these skills. It’s a nonsensical approach.”
Education institutions meanwhile claim that forcing overseas students to leave the UK immediately would make Britain a less attractive destination for foreign students.
Immigration is likely to be one of the key issues in the run up to next year’s election, with Conservatives coming under fire from the anti-immigration party UKIP, a party to whom a number of traditional Tory voters are considering switching.
Article published 22nd December 2014