International students could find it harder to gain places at UK universities, should new visa plans be approved. The plans, currently being examined by the Home Office (HO), have been put forward despite claims from Universities UK that HO research indicated only 2% of students currently fail to comply with their visa requirements.

The new proposal would mean that international students applying for a visa would be subject to stricter checks if they applied for a university with a high number of “over-stayers,” those continuing to live in the UK after completing their course.

Home secretary Theresa May said: “Too many (students) are not returning home as soon as their visas run out. I don’t care what the university lobbyists say. The rules must be enforced. Students, yes. Over-stayers, no”.

The Office of National Statistics has published figures showing that between June 2014 and June 2015 130,000 people from outside the EU received study visas, while 38,000 left after completing their studies in the same period. The other 93,000 international students did not return home after completing their course.

[su_spoiler title=”the costs to the home countries of foreign students who remain in the UK” style=”simple” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”Comment”]The statistic that close to 100,000 overseas graduates are remaining in the country after completing their studies, is certainly concerning. This is not because it reflects any instability in the UK’s border system; rather, the problem is both a moral and pragmatic one.

Those talented graduates who have come to study in the UK are depriving their home countries of their abilities. If all Ugandan medical students, for example, were to not return to Uganda, that would deprive a poor country of the vital skills it needs. Business graduates are needed in Indonesia; chemists needed in Bangladesh; engineers needed in South Africa; the list is endless.

I am not arguing against foreign-born graduates remaining in principle – they are after all essential for the UK’s economy, but we should not be a vacuum for global talent. Whilst it is undoubtedly beneficial to have such skilled people remain, this has a negative effect upon the countries and economies that would otherwise benefit.

93,000 highly skilled graduates staying in the UK every year, will inevitably have a detrimental impact on other countries, as it is extracting the best talent from them.

Non-EU graduates should be welcome to stay in the UK, but I think 93,000 is a lot to take from countries who need these skills more than we do.

Tom Sellars, News writer[/su_spoiler]

The conclusiveness of the statistics has been questioned by Universities UK, who said in a statement that work is currently underway to improve the official data on people exiting the UK, information they say will give a greater understanding of the flow of students.

Current rules allow universities to take students from overseas if they can prove those students have the correct qualifications and will study once in the UK. Officials believe penalties should be given to those institutions which bring a significant number of students into the country who remain after their studies.

May said she wanted to “bring accountability to the immigration system… by rewarding those who play by the rules, for example with faster processing, lower costs and less onerous inspection” and “cracking down on those who abuse the system…by limiting their ability to benefit from immigration in the future”.

The plans do not match up with the views of Chancellor George Osborne, who rejected suggestions by the Home Office that postgraduates bringing dependants into the UK should be forced to take tougher English tests, calling the suggestion “not government policy.”

Osborne has also stated that the number of people attending university could grow by 65,000 in the next few years.