UKBA finally published an Impact Assessment on 9 June 2011 relating to the student immigration system. The document states that the policy objectives in reforming the student immigration system are as follows:
- reduce the areas of the student route that are prone to abuse;
- reduce net migration;
- improve selectivity of students and Post Study Work route migrants to the UK, to ensure they are the brightest and the best and those who make the highest contribution;
- restore public confidence in the migration system; and
- ensure that the system is robust and practical to enforce.
The intended effect is to have a simple and fair selection system that robustly controls against abuse.
The Impact Assessment goes on to say that UKBA believes that private FE and English language institutions are heavily reliant on non-EU students. On this basis UKBA assumes that businesses would strive to attract other nationalities of students (UK and EU students), otherwise they would face significant losses.
It is evident from both the Impact Assessment and the 4 July 2011 changes that the number of non-EU students that were previously coming to the UK to study at private FE institutions will be significantly reduced over the next few years but publicly funded institutions may not fare as badly as may have been predicted. The current system appears to be a far cry from the days of 'Cool Britannia' in 1999, when Tony Blair launched the 'UK education brand' designed to attract as many overseas students as possible.
The full report can be found here.