Most importantly the guidelines, which affect applications for
visas made from July 4th 2011, allow pathway students to continue
entering the UK with an English language level of Common European
Framework Level (CEFR) B1 (equivalent to IELTS 4.0) rather than the
proposed level of CEFR B2 - something that would have "all but
wiped out Foundation provision in the UK," according to Tim.
Student rights to work and bring dependants to the UK,
progression criteria, and funding requirements will however be
affected, although this will have a relatively minor impact on
INTO's overall business and in most cases be simple for students to
adjust to. In addition, a new streamlined application process to
help students from low-risk countries will be implemented.
Tim O'Brien said: "Broadly this is a positive outcome for INTO
relative to the original proposals, and could have been a lot worse
following a consultation process that was unsettling and created
nervousness in a multi-billion pound export market for the UK."
The outcome owes much to INTO's close partnerships with trusted
universities (a source of student immigration Home Secretary
Theresa May agreed to protect) - something that speaks to the
strength of its joint venture model. It is also thanks to the
concerted lobbying that went on during the consultation process,
which saw a Home Affairs Select Committee, various think tanks, and
major universities and HE providers including INTO speak out
against the original proposals.
"Without a shadow of doubt, the intense lobbying campaign waged
by INTO and others has had a very significant impact on the
outcome," said Tim. "The consultation also coalesced the industry.
INTO worked closely with UUK, UKCISA, English UK, other pathway
providers and the media to ensure that the arguments were well
rehearsed and the dangers to the industry of pushing ahead with
some of the more damaging proposals were clearly spelt out in the
newspapers, television, to the Government and to the UKBA."
However, stressed Tim, "We need to remain vigilant. Students are
included in net migration figures - and if the present Government
cannot control the volume of other migrants coming to the UK,
they may continue to target those over whom they do have some
control - namely students. Damage to the industry could be seen as
acceptable unless we ensure that our voices are heard in a wider
campaign to win votes and headlines in the run up to the next
Looking at the Government's new guidelines in more detail it is
clear that INTO will be less affected than rivals like Study Group.
Student rights to work, for example, will only be given to those at
HEI's or publicly funded FE colleges, but because INTO
predominantly operates in joint ventures with universities, all of
its centres bar INTO Manchester will remain unaffected.
With regards to dependants, only those sponsored by HE
institutions on courses of NQF level 7 or above lasting 12 months
or more, or Government-sponsored students following courses longer
than six months, will be able to bring their partners and children
to the UK.
Other requirements include education providers to vouch that
every new course taken by a student represents 'academic
progression', and for students to provide proof of maintenance
funds from validated financial institutions (UKBA will publish a
list of banned finance institutions). Students may also be asked to
attend an interview, either as part of the application process
in-country or when they enter the UK.
Meanwhile, a new streamlined application process will assist
students from low-risk countries such as Brunei, Japan, South
Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore (full list available on UKBA
website) who will have to provide fewer evidential documents.
For a more detailed explanation of the new Tier 4 guidelines
(highly recommended for all INTO staff) please visit the UKBA website.