UK extends pilot visa scheme to 23 universities
The UK Home Office has extended a pilot scheme that streamlines visa processes for non-EU master's students to an additional 23 universities.

The scheme - which originally launched last year with the Universities of Bath, Cambridge and Oxford and Imperial College London - allows the participating institutions to take greater responsibility for eligibility checks, meaning students can submit fewer documents.


Non-EU students on master's course of less than 13 months at participating universities will also be provided with greater support in switching to a work visa, and are allowed to remain for six months after completion of their course. The pilot can be applied to the institutions' 2018/19 intake of non-EU master's students.


Immigration Minister, Brandon Lewis, "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 second-most popular destination for international students and the number coming to study at our universities has increased by 24 per cent since 2010."


He added, "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."


The Home Office said that the 23 institutions added to the pilot scheme - including two in Scotland, two in Wales and one in Northern Ireland - were chosen because their visa refusal rates were consistently the lowest in their regions.


Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said, "International students bring huge cultural and economic benefits to the UK and the evidence shows the overwhelming majority comply with the terms of their visa, no matter which university they choose.


"It is positive that the Government clearly recognises the benefits of international students and is extending post-study work opportunities to help make the UK a more attractive destination for international students. In the near future, we hope the Government will go further to improve post-study work opportunities for students at all universities across the UK."


Scottish Government Minister for International Development and Europe, Alasdair Allan, welcomed the broadening of the pilot to Scotland, but urged the rollout of changes to all universities as soon as possible.


"We remain concerned at the UK Government's emphasis on visa refusal rates as the basis for including institutions in the pilot, as this can unfairly discriminate against smaller or more specialist institutions," he added.


The full list of institutions added to the pilot scheme is:

Cardiff University

Goldsmiths University of London

Harper Adams University

Newcastle University

Queen's University Belfast

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

University of Bristol

Durham University

University of East Anglia

University of Edinburgh

University of Essex

University of Exeter

University of Glasgow

University of Leicester

University of Liverpool

University of Manchester

University of Nottingham

University of Reading

University of Sheffield

University of Southampton

University of Wales Trinity St. David (Swansea Campus)

University of Warwick

University of York


By Matthew Knott

News Editor