Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP Steve Brine has again raised the issue of student visas in the House of Commons.He pressed Immigration Minister Damian Green on the subject during Home Office Question Time on Monday 7 March 2011, and raised the plight of Winchester School of English and the University of Winchester as they anxiously await the outcome of a review into the student visa entry system.
A Government consultation on the system ended last month and Ministers are expected to announce their recommendations to Parliament in the coming weeks.
Both institutions are concerned that new B2 English entry-level requirements will bar entry to their institutions for many overseas students and deny them important sources of income.
Mr Brine said, "May I press the Minister to reassure legitimate English language schools, such as the Winchester School of English in my constituency, which he has visited, and higher education institutions, including the University of Winchester, that new B2 English entry level requirements will not wipe out a critical source of their respective revenues?"In reply, the Minister said, "Mr Brine is right, I have visited that language school in his constituency and admired its work. One proposal in the consultation was to raise the English language requirement from B1 to B2, because we believe it is right that students should have a good command of English to complete their course. In responses to the consultation, universities and others have expressed concern about that proposal, and we are considering those representations as well as the many others that we have received. I recognise that we need to strike the right balance so that the brightest and best students can come to this country and benefit it both in the short and the long term. At the same time, however, we recognise that we need to crack down on the many abuses of the student visa system under the previous Government, which have led to the widespread lack of confidence in our immigration system. Of course we need to strike a balance between those two demands, and we are confident that we will do so."Speaking after the exchanges in Parliament, the MP said, "Ministers are no doubt fed up with me badgering them about this but it's absolutely essential in my view that we crack down on bogus colleges and the widespread abuse of our student immigration system allowed by the last Government while protecting legitimate and trusted institutions that are simply trying to run their businesses. Like many others I await the forthcoming announcement from the Home Office with great interest."