LONDON: Britain’s move to abolish the visa that allows Indian and other non-EU students to take up employment in the UK for two years after the completion of their courses is likely to reduce the number of Indians coming here for MBA degrees, an industry body has said.
The London-based Association of MBAs, which accredits business management courses in 70 countries, including the UK, said the proposed move was of ‘significant concern’, and would restrict enrolment of international students from India and elsewhere.
In a speech last week, immigration minister Damian Green said that non-EU students could not be allowed unfettered access to the UK labour market amidst growing unemployment in Britain.
He said: "The post study work route was intended to form a bridge between study and skilled work, allowing all international graduates to remain for two years after graduation… To allow unfettered access to the jobs market for two years to anyone with a student visa from abroad is putting an unnecessary extra strain on our own graduates".
Noting that India and China are two of the UK’s biggest markets for international students, the association said in its response to the consultation on the student visa review that the UK must do all it can to remain competitive in the highly skilled business education sector.
"Turning students away by restricting their access to post-study employment puts their reputations at stake and threatens future viability," it said.
The association said that MBA courses have high fees, and does not attract the type of migrants which the David Cameron government was seeking to deter from entering and abusing the student visa system.
Moreover, MBA international students bring "a high level of income for UK universities at a time when they are struggling for funding", the association said.
In British universities, MBA tuition fees range from 10,000 pounds to 50,000 pounds per year.
The Association of MBAs surveyed 47 accredited business schools in the UK in early January 2011.
Of the 34 who responded, 97 per cent said that they believe continued restrictions on student visas are likely to impact their enrolment numbers in the future.
Of these, 56 per cent said that the impact was highly likely.
"This supports deep concerns voiced in focus groups among business schools that prospective students will look elsewhere to competitor countries including Canada, the United States and Australia", it said.
The association added: "The focus on student immigration and the blanket restriction of visas across the entire student population poses significant risks to UK’s ability to remain competitive in global education and business".
"We urge the government to recognise that there are different categories of international students".
Green’s proposed restrictive measures on the student visa system has already raised a welter of protest from the education sector.
Professor Edward Acton, vice-chancellor of the University of East Anglia, and a spokesman for Universities UK, said the government’s plans amounted to a ‘hostile act’.
Professor David Wark, of Imperial College London, also warned against plans to weaken the link between study and work.
"If we get an opportunity to pick the cream of the crop, we shouldn’t pass that up," he added.
Professor Steve Smith, president of Universities UK, said the government’s plans could cause ‘unintended damage’ to the university sector and Britain’s international reputation.(PTI)