The UK's pilot visa scheme for international students

30 Jul 2016 | By Ramya

The United Kingdom launched a visa for overseas students applying for Masters Degrees in certain high-profile universities.

The 'Tier-4 Visa Pilot Scheme' is for international students, including Indians, who secure admission into one-year Master courses at Imperial College London, Oxford, Bath or Cambridge universities.

It allows students to stay for six months post studies to work, travel, try a startup, or explore further study.

In context: The UK's Visa Pilot Scheme for students

IntroductionThe UK abolishes the post-study work visa

In Dec'11, UK Home Secretary Theresa May suggested that the Government should reform the international student immigration procedure.

In Apr'12, the Government had announced that the Tier-1 Post-study Work Visa, which allowed international students to stay on for two years, would be abolished.

In Jan'16, the then Prime Minister David Cameron rejected several demands calling for the Tier-1 visa to be reintroduced.

25 Jul 2016PM May attempts to limit the number of student visas

The United Kingdom's newly-elected Prime Minister Theresa May had asked concerned authorities to scrutinize the number of student visas being issued to university applicants.

In a bid to decrease immigration, May prepared her Government to crackdown on higher-education institutions which had become an easy route to enter the nation.

The ministers were asked to develop funding models which weren't "so dependent" on overseas students.

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30 Jul 2016The UK's pilot visa scheme for international students

Ability to stay on for six months

Alice Gast-Imperial College London's President stated: "The ability to stay on for six months will bring benefits to the students and to the country as our talented graduates will be able to pursue their entrepreneurial ideas, further study or add to the UK's talent pool."
Visa applications that would be covered

Visa ApplicationsVisa applications that would be covered

The pilot visa scheme would cover applications that were decided on 25 Jul'16 or after; it applies to courses commencing in 2016-17 or 2017-18.

The scheme is open for those applying for a visa for a 13-month or less Masters course in the eligible universities.

Undergraduate/PhD/Masters Degree students need to submit necessary documents along with visa applications for courses lasting for over 13 months.

UK Home Office's statement

"Participating in the pilot allows you to stay longer after the end of the course - the total length of stay you are allowed is the full length of the course plus six months after the end of the course."
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International StudentsDecrease in the number of student visa applications

The UK removed Post-study work visa in 2012; the move led to a decrease in the number of international students applying for a visa.

It is expected that the scheme would run over the next two years, after which it would be modified or made permanent on the basis of its success.

The scheme may attract students, especially Indians, exploring short term Masters courses.

Indian students in the UK

After 2012, Indian students got attracted to courses in other countries like the US and Australia. The number of Indians going to the UK for studies plummeted from 18,535 (2010-11) to only 10,235 (2012-13), said a Higher Education Funding Council for England's report.