The service recognises the importance of universities within the higher education sector and has been launched following feedback. As sponsors they will have a dedicated point of contact within the UK border agency as well as access to expert advice and information.
Immigration minister Damian Green said:
‘British universities are among the greatest in the world - and we want to continue helping them to recruit the brightest and the best students from overseas.
‘We have listened to feedback from the sector and acted, which is why we are bringing forward these improvements. At the same time we are committed to radically reforming the student visa system to weed out abuse and protect the UK from those looking to play the system.’
Staff at universities will also have access to specialised training events on a variety of areas such as initial recruitment of overseas students, reporting to the UK border agency and how to ensure universities continue to meet their responsibilities. These events will be led by Universities UK and supported by the UK border agency.
The scheme has been tailored for universities, and the UK border agency has worked closely with universities UK in developing the service, which includes:
- a dedicated account manager;
- training events for universities on topics such as compliance and how to maintain highly trusted sponsor status;
- access to a range of events each year;
- the ability to quickly check whether or not a potential student is eligible to come to the UK;
- receipt of a monthly report outlining how many overseas students have taken up the university’s offer to sponsor their study in the UK.
If the pilot is successful then the UK border agency will consider how the service might benefit other education institutions that sponsor international students.
Notes to editors
1. The account management service pilot for universities who sponsor non-EEA students started in July 2012 and will come to an end in April 2013.
2. Once the pilot has concluded the UK border agency will analyse feedback and consider extending the service to all tier 4 sponsors as an optional, chargeable service.
3. Last year universities sponsored 244,830 international students, which accounts for 66 per cent of all international students, up from 53 per cent the year before.
4. For more information contact the home office press office on 020 7035 3535.
5. For all the latest home office news, photos and video visit the media centre: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/media-centre