Student Visas: International Education and Migration Policy

By Catherine Waite

Two weeks ago it was announced that the UK Border Agency had taken the decision to withdraw London Metropolitan University’s sponsorship licence, leaving them unable to recruit and teach students from outside of the European Union.

The following week the government’s Business, Innovation and Skills Committee published a report on ‘Overseas Students and Net Migration’. The report outlines the conflict between the government’s wish to reduce net migration, whilst still allowing universities to continue to attract and educate overseas students. The findings indicate that it would be beneficial for overseas students to be excluded from net migration figures, as their stay is only temporary whilst they complete their studies. Such a policy change would be in line with the USA and Australia’s classification of international students, but the Home Office argue that current policy reflects UN definitions in which overseas students are considered to be migrants.

Many of the issues underlying these debates have been subject to geographical research. Holloway and Jöns (2012) introduction to the recently published virtual edition of Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers on the Geographies of education and learning provides an initial insight into some of these issues. These insights are then addressed in more depth in articles such as ‘World Class? An investigation of globalisation, difference and international student mobility’ by Findlay et al. (2012), that are included in the virtual issue. Similarly the debates about how best to classify student migration and the lived experiences of international student migrants are highlighted in Collins (2012) paper ‘Researching mobility and emplacement: examining transience and transnationality in international student lives’ which was published in Area earlier this year.

Holloway, S.L. and Jöns, H. 2012 Virtual Issue: Geographies of Education and Learning Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS37 482-488

Findlay, A.M., King, R., Smith, F.M., Geddes, A. and Skeldon, R. 2012 World Class? An investigation of globalisation, difference and international student mobility Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS37 118-131

Collins, F.L. 2012 Researching mobility and emplacement: examining transience and transnationality in international student lives Area 44:3 296-304

UK Border Agency criticised over student visas The Guardian

Exclude overseas students from migration count, say MPs BBC News

 

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