A BBC report in 2008 showed that fees from International students amounted to £1.7bn. The Universities are interested in attracting foreign non-EU students because they can charge them higher. In my case I paid approximately £10300 this year and the fees are increasing. Local and EU students only pay one third that amount. In other words I am paying for the cost of two local/ EU students. I don't mind because a degree from a reputed British University is looked on favourably by employers all around the World (at least I hope so).
The Malaysian Government itself spends millions of dollars every year sponsoring the education of thousands of students in institutes of higher learning all over the UK.
However, recent changes in immigration regulations may change all that. First were the requirement to carry biometric identity cards. I didn't mind that even though there were a lot of protests because I am used to carrying an ID card all the time in Malaysia.
Yesterday we received an email from the University informing us of Pending changes to the immigration rules for student visa renewals. Based on the new rules which will be implemented from the 31st of March 2009, students would need to provide evidence of any remaining course fees to be paid plus £600pm (up to a maximum of £1200) living costs for visa extensions of nine months or less. If more than nine months you will need to provide evidence of your first year’s fees plus £1200 living costs.
The most worrying part of the new rule is the part of dependants. Namely the fact that you will need to show evidence of funds to support them. The amount has not been fixed yet but is tentatively £533 (per month) for each dependant (including children).
I guess this is part of their policy to toughen immigration rules and it has got worse since the economic recession started. All of us can feel a deepening anti-foreigner sentiment - from politicians, newspaper articles and even bloggers.
Now we are blamed for all short of problems ranging from health care to employment. This is plain ridiculous. Instead of creating more employment and reducing the number of people on the dole, foreigners are the perfect bogeyman to take the blame for past planning, economic and financial mistakes on the part of the Government.
I do agree that there is a problem of illegal immigrants but the new policies will affect the students legally staying and contributing to the British economy. I guess they are frustrated because they can't do anything about the rest of the Europeans (since the UK is part of the EU) or the illegal immigrants or the asylum seekers.
The ones worst affected will be the PhD research students with families. Officially most PhD courses are supposed to be of 3 years duration and the visa are given accordingly but apart from rare cases, most will extend to the fourth or fifth year. For example, in the Warwick Business School, I don't know of any single student (foreign and local) who has completed their PhD degree in the stipulated 3 years duration. The only guy I know who completed in 3 years in the whole University of Warwick was a Malaysian in the Engineering faculty and he was lucky because all his experiments went as planned. Sometimes it is not even the fault of the students as some supervisors can take their own sweet time in passing the students.
My friend has 4 kids and he has to have approximately