Non-EU international students will be forced to leave the UK following the completion of their degree under new plans announced by Theresa May, the home secretary, this week.

The home secretary will also introduce new rules preventing foreign students from working, even part time, whilst completing their studies.

Theresa May, the home secretary, at the Policy Exchange.
Theresa May, the home secretary, at the Policy Exchange. Photo: Flickr, the Policy Exchange

The Home Office has described the introduction of these new rules as a “new crackdown on visa fraud”, aimed at ensuring student visas are used for study and “not as a back door to the country’s job market”.

The new rules received wide support from elsewhere in the Government, with business secretary Sajid Javid praising the move. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Javid said he wanted a system that was not open to abuse from international students, commenting “we’ve got to have a system that doesn’t allow any abuse when people are using the right to study as a way to achieve settlement in Britain”.

The comments from the business secretary have however attracted criticism from the business world. Seamus Nevin, the Head of Employment and Skills Policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “The Business Secretary’s proposals to eject foreign students after graduation are misguided and would damage the British education system, our economy and global influence”.

Connor Rand, the Union of UEA Students’ (UUEAS) Undergraduate Education Officer, said: “This is another racist and self-harming attack on international students that will scupper our reputation as a progressive, economically competent country, seriously risking the UK’s competitiveness in order for the Tories to play to the racist right”.

He added: “Their attack on international students in further education colleges has no evidence base and will limit the progression of students from those colleges to universities”.

Yinbo Yu, the UUEAS’ Activities and Opportunities Officer, committed in his manifesto to push the union to be a Tier Two visa sponsor. He responded to the government’s announcement by saying: “it’s union policy that the SU should get a license to be able to sponsor students to work- but this year the government halted the process of giving out licenses in a crackdown, and next year they intend that such licenses will only be for £35k and over jobs. These represent vile attacks that are a kick in the teeth for international students who want to come to the UK to contribute”.