The UK Home Secretary Theresa May made the following announcement this afternoon.
The main impact of these changes will be felt by private colleges that offer courses below the degree level. From an MBA perspective, the main announcements are :-
i. Students will now have to show evidence of financial means to study (this does not affect the Cambridge MBA because we already ask all offer candidates to demonstrate that they are able to fund the tuition and living expenses before we send an unconditional offer letter).
ii. Tightening English language requirements (this will not affect the Cambridge MBA because our existing English requirements are already above the ones being implemented).
iii. overall time a student can hold a visa will be limited to five years for post-graduates (this does not affect the Cambridge MBA because we are a one-year program).
iv. dependents permitted to accompany post-graduate students only (as the Cambridge MBA is a post-graduate course, this should mean no change to our students).
v. closure of the Post Study Work (PSW) visa from April 2012, but graduates with an offer of a skilled job from a sponsoring employer in Tier 2 of the points based system will be able to stay to work.
Point (v) is the biggest change that will have an impact on non-EU candidates who wish to study in the UK. Currently, students can apply for a PSW visa that gives them the right to stay in the UK for two years after graduation to look for a job. The announcement last week cut that period to six months, after which PSW visa holders had to move to a Tier 2 visa.
However, the impact of closing the PSW visa route might not be as large as the inevitable media attention might suggest. An non-EU MBA student enrolled in a 12-month program, such as the Cambridge MBA, would have a visa valid for 16 months anyway. And from our observations, most non-EU students who ultimately work in the UK do so by finding a job within 3 months after graduation.
As with most of these announcements, the devil is in the details and we will have to wait to examine the fine print when it is eventually published. As of the time of writing, the UK Border Agency has yet to post the details on their website so I will keep you posted (hopefully the hotels that I will be staying in in Spain have reliable Wifi).