LONDON — Home Secretary Amber Rudd is set to back down on visa plans that would allow only foreign students at elite UK universities to stay in the country once their courses end.
The Times reports that Rudd was alarmed at the outraged reaction to her plans to make companies list the number of foreign workers they employ, and is determined to avoid another immigration row.
In October, Rudd announced a consultation on student visas, amid government concerns that too many students were abusing the system and staying after their courses ended. She suggested that the government would offer those at the “best universities” the chance to stay on and work in Britain, as well as those that “stick to the rules,” while “looking at tougher rules for students on lower quality courses.”
Rudd is now seeking a compromise which would widen visa entitlement to more universities. One reported option is allowing students on “strategically important” courses to remain after their graduation, regardless of whether they attend elite universities.
The government will alternatively consider basing visa entitlement on a new university ranking system which will separate universities into three bands — gold, silver, and bronze. The ranking will also affect how much universities are able to increase tuition fees.
A Home Office spokesman told the Times: “This is not about pulling up the drawbridge to international students but making sure those students that come here, come to study.”
The consultation is due to be published in the new year.
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