Following the publication of a report on Student Visitors, the Home Office has announced that the Student Visitor route is working well by attracting genuine, talented students for short-term study at UK institutions.

The Student Visitor route allows people to study in the UK for up to six months (or for up to 11 months if the student is studying an English language course).  Unlike those coming to the UK under Tier 4 of the Points-Based System, Student Visitors do not have to be formally sponsored by an educational institution; however, they must attend an institution which is accredited to provide education.

The report sampled both visa and non-visa nationals (visa nationals are required to apply for a visa before arriving in the UK whilst non-visa nationals can apply for entry at the port in the UK).  For visa nationals, 750 successful and 306 unsuccessful Student Visitor visa applications were reviewed, and, for non-visa nationals, 947 Student Visitor arrivals were surveyed at London Heathrow airport. However, it is unclear as to whether all of the 947 non-visa nationals arriving at Heathrow were granted entry to the United Kingdom.  

In 2011, the number of Student Visitor arrivals represented a not insignificant 9% increase on 2010 arrivals; however, there was a drop in the number of Student Visitors amongst nationals of the United States, Hong Kong, and Nigeria.  In the year ending March 2013, the number of issued Student Visitor visas increased 6% on the previous year.

The top five countries of nationality for non-visa nationals were Brazil (34.5%), US (27%), Japan (17.4%), Korea (7.2%), and Mexico (2%).  The top five countries of nationality for successful visa applicants were Russia (19.1%), China (15.6%), Turkey (12.8%), Saudi Arabia (9.5%), and India (6.6%).  However, Russia, China, and Turkey also formed a large percentage of refused applications with 44% being from these countries as well as Nigeria.

Around two-thirds of both visa and non-visa national Student Visitors were coming to the UK to study an English language course.  Other popular courses (26%) included exchange programmes, e.g. 85% of US nationals were taking part in one.

The majority of applicants, over 75%, were coming to study at institutions on the Home Office’s Tier 4 Register.

The most common reason for refusal was insufficient documents/information submitted (50.4%), followed closely by no intention to leave the UK after studies (46.2%), no intention to study/seeking employment (45.7%), funds not genuinely available (42.2%), and studies are inconsistent with student/employment history (26.8%).

For the full report please click here.