A UK government pilot visa scheme designed to make it simpler for international Masters students to study in Britain is to be extended.
The programme, which is now in its second year, initially involved the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and Imperial College London. An additional 23 educational establishments have now joined the scheme. Universities in Manchester, Glasgow, Sheffield and Durham are among those taking part.
The government wants to streamline the process for international students looking to study on a Masters course lasting 13 months or less.
The scheme also provides additional support to students who wish to switch to a work visa and take up a graduate role, by allowing them to remain in the UK for six months after they have completed their course.
At the start of December, London mayor Sadiq Khan used a speech in Mumbai to call for Britain’s visa system to become more flexible in order to encourage a greater number of talented Indians to study and work in Britain. Mr Khan wants to see a new post-study work visa introduced for international students, leading to fewer barriers and less red tape.
According to a statement released by the Home Office, universities taking part have responsibility for eligibility checks, meaning that students can submit fewer documents than required in the current process alongside their visa applications. All students will still need to pass Home Office security and identity checks, and those who don’t meet immigration rules will be refused.
Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said: “I am delighted to announce the expansion of this pilot which is part of our ongoing activity to ensure that our world-leading institutions remain highly competitive.
“The UK continues to be the 2nd most popular destination for international students and the number coming to study at our universities has increased by 24% since 2010. This is a clear indication that genuine students are welcome and there is no limit on the number who can come to study in the UK.”