Brighton and Hove’s language schools have given a mixed reception to the tougher rules on student visas proposed by Home Secretary Theresa May.
Since the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government first announced cuts in immigration and student visa numbers last year, some language schools have suffered.
GEOS English Academy in Portland Road, Hove, went into administration last year and was sold. It was reliant on Japanese and South Korean students.
And Lawrence Eke, administrative director of the Intensive School of English Language Limited (ISE) in The Drive, Hove, said: “Bookings from outside the EU are down more than 35 per cent compared to pre- April 2010.”
“Everyone who works in this sector recognises that it needed an overhaul.
“I have worked in EFL for ten years and the abuse of the student immigration route has been growing.”
Mr Eke had some concerns, such as the way the visa process had been made too demanding for many legitimate students.
At 47 pages, Britain had the longest visa application form in the developed world, he said.
He added: “The bureaucratic ‘price’ of the changes will most affect the smaller schools and genuine students who want to come.
“I have noticed a drop in applications from Brazil, Colombia, Japan, South Korea and Russia.
“Since the rules were tightened I have had many more unsolicited inquiries from Pakistan and India but as I do not accept unsolicited bookings I do not have any students from these countries.
“We in the sector have a responsibility to make the student visa system better, through rewarding bona fide students and being tough with those who disregard the rules.”
Simon Kirby, the Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, offered to relay to the Home Secretary the concerns of English language schools, colleges and the universities.
Brighton and Hove has more than 30 organisation taking overseas students.
The Home Secretary said that she was tackling bogus colleges and bogus students who were abusing the immigration and visa rules.
Mr Kirby said: “I understand that, in the past, the student visa system has provided a loophole for those looking to abuse our immigration system.
“I welcome the government’s efforts to establish greater control over the numbers of people coming to the UK.
“This is important for our labour market and social cohesion.
“However, I also recognise that international students provide vital funding to our universities, and non-EU students contribute around £5billion to our wider economy.
“For that reason it is imperative that these changes do not deter genuine students from coming to the UK.
“The government has made clear that it does not intend to target legitimate students.
“However, I know that many are concerned that these proposals could have implications which may be to the detriment of this enormously beneficial industry.
”In particular, staff and students at Brighton’s excellent language schools hold particular concerns regarding the impact of proposed English language requirements.
“I have written to them expressing my willingness to help them communicate these concerns to the government.”
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