Oxford University Press

English Language Teaching Global Blog


The changing immigration laws in the UK

UK Border signLaura Austin, an ELT Consultant for Oxford University Press, looks at how the changing immigration laws in the UK will affect foreign students hoping to live and work in the UK.

What’s happening?

Immigration laws are changing in the UK, making it more difficult for foreign students to get general student visas (GSVs). The government are aiming to cut visa numbers by 80,000.

Certain schools have ‘highly trusted sponsorship status’ (HTS) which means that they comply with tough criteria based on absences, drop outs etc. Having HTS gives schools a quota of places to fill in the school and the ability to issue a CAS. (A CAS is a unique reference number given to students on successfully signing up for a course – it allows students to apply for GSVs).

Previously schools could issue a CAS for a GSV without having HTS. This is no longer the case.

The system is toughening up and students are now required to hold a B2 level of English proficiency across all four skills.

This is a huge threat to the ELT industry in the UK. It is estimated that 40% of the ELT admissions in the UK come from GSVs.

Is it important?

Well, yes. Britain’s international and higher education sector is worth £10bn a year. If overseas agents can’t offer students the right package (i.e. combination of study and work options for all language levels) then we will become less competitive in the market and lose business to other countries.

Who will be affected?

Students, teachers, accommodation providers, shop keepers, the whole infrastructure of places like Brighton and Bournemouth which house large numbers of students. Private language schools who don’t achieve their HTS and also universities where students aren’t at a B2 level for all four skills.

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