"Colleagues at INTO and in our partner universities have been
working tirelessly to ensure that we reach a sensible outcome to
the UKBA consultation - which ensures that Tier 4 students entering
the UK do so for the purpose of study, but which encourages and
protects the interests of genuine students," said Tim O'Brien,
Director of Student Experience and coordinator of INTO's campaign
against the changes.
"Britain needs to remain open for business for international
students - and with your help and support we will continue to lobby
and work with the Government to ensure this is exactly what
happens," he added.
So far the campaign has focused on two key areas - lobbying
Members of Parliament, ministers and Government officials directly,
and raising the issue in the UK media.
Student immigration has been debated vigorously in parliament,
and the influential Home Affairs Committee, chaired by Keith Vaz
MP, has been collecting evidence on the potential impact of the
Tier 4 changes from Professors Acton (UEA) and Smith (Exeter) of
Universities UK; Tony Millns, Chief Executive of English UK; Aaron
Porter, President of the National Union of Students; Dominic Scott,
Chief Executive of UKCISA; and Damian Green, Immigration Minister.
Migration Watch, who seek to curb net migration in the UK, have
also been consulted. Read a full copy of the evidence given by
Professors Acton and Smith
INTO Centre Directors and large numbers of INTO staff have been
involved in campaigns to contact local MPs and media outlets. INTO
UEA managed to highlight the issue with local MPs, and was
mentioned in Parliament after Conservative MP Richard Bacon visited
the centre as an advocate. See footage from Parliamentary TV
In addition five Norfolk MPs have written to the Home
Secretary, Theresa May, outlining concerns and requesting a formal
response, while Queen's University has submitted evidence to the
Northern Ireland Assembly. INTO continues to coordinate its
lobbying activities closely with Universities UK, partner
universities, other pathway providers and key sector
The issue has also received widespread media exposure, including
a number of features in the
Financial Times - one of Britain's most influential newspapers
- calling on the Government to do more to attract international
students to the UK rather than creating additional visa hurdles.
There has been additional coverage on the BBC website and in the
Times Higher Education supplement and
As we reported earlier this
month, it is feared that if changes to the Tier 4
points-based system go ahead, the number of pre-degree level
students entering the UK will be significantly reduced - something
that will hit pre-degree level providers like INTO, the wider HE
sector, and even the UK economy.
Tim O'Brien said this week: "Did you know that INTO students
alone are worth more than £400million in terms of tuition fees to
INTO and UK universities, plus expenditure in the British economy?
That more than 46% of all international students in UK universities
have come through a pathway of some form or another? Or that higher
education is Britain's seventh largest export earner, worth more
than £10billion to the economy?"
Signalling the extent of concern over proposed changes to
student visas, a UK Government consultation review received a total
of 31,000 written responses by the time it closed on January 31st.
Said Tim: "That is an astonishingly large number for a review of
this nature, and illustrates how successful we've been in
marshalling opinion around what is a vital export success for the
He added: "To all of those who have completed a consultation
response, written to their MP, or participated in hosting visits
from UKBA and others to our centres, thank you! Your efforts are
being noticed, and I would hope the Government recognizes the value
of the work we do in helping secure economic recovery in the UK,
and in protecting our world-leading education sector."
It is clear the campaign is having an impact and INTO remains
cautiously optimistic that the Government will not implement some
of the more damaging proposals of the review. However nothing
can be taken for granted, and for now the lobbying continues. We
will update you as the story develops.