UK drops visa bond proposals

November 07, 2013

The UK Home Office has abandoned plans for a UK£3,000 security bond on visitors from ‘high risk’ countries, following complaints that it would be against the country’s economic interests.



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The scheme was proposed earlier this year to target visitors from India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, many of which are major source countries for UK educational institutions, in order to prevent visitors overstaying.

Under the proposals, visitors would have paid a UK£3,000 (US$4,821) bond before arrival in the UK which would have been forfeited if they failed to make a return trip.

Following a report in the Sunday Times, the Home Office are reported to have confirmed that the scheme has been dropped.

Figures within the coalition government were thought to be opposed to the plans, including the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and the Business Secretary Vince Cable, who said the plan had caused damage in India.

Although it was not clear in the initial proposals whether student visas would have been included in the plans, institutions will be relieved that the scheme has been shelved, with student numbers from the targeted ‘high risk’ countries already declining in the higher education sector.

According to data from the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency, students from India declined 24 per cent in 2011/12, while Pakistan fell 14 per cent. A recent snapshot survey of 18 UK universities by Times Higher Education showed an average decline of eight per cent in Indian postgraduate applications.

The abandonment of the scheme was welcomed in India. The Confederation of Indian Industry said in a statement, “This is indeed good news for Indian students as well as the UK universities that had seen a drop of 25 per cent registrations from India alone in the last one year on account of rises in tuition fees and growing visa restrictions.”

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