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Posted on October 28 2015

Studying in UK gets costlier; job rules tougher for new graduates

By  Editor
Updated April 03 2023

It will soon become a lot more expensive for overseas students to study in the UK. An overseas student applying for a Tier 4 visa (student visa) needs to show that he has enough funds not just for his educational fees, but also to meet his cost of living (referred to as maintenance fund). The maintenance fund requirement has risen by 24%. Further, unless a student has a graduate-level job on hand, he has to return to his home country on completion of his studies. Both these changes will come into force from November 12.

The cost increase will impact many Indian aspirants, and the restrictive job provisions will dampen the dreams of those currently studying in the UK. Indian students there constitute the second largest group of overseas students. Students from India in the UK numbered 19,750 during 2013-14, though this was a drop of 2,635 from the previous year, according to data released by the UK's Higher Education Statistics Agency.

For a course of over nine months, an overseas student applying for a visa needs to have maintenance funds of at least £11,385 (about Rs 11 lakh) for London-based institutions and £9,135 (about Rs 9 lakh) for outside London. For courses of shorter durations, monthly maintenance funds have been specified at £ 1,265 (about Rs 1.26 lakh) for London and £ 1,015 (about Rs 1.01 lakh) for outside London.

The provision allowing students with an 'established presence' in the UK to meet a lower requirement will also be removed from November 12. Going forward, students who have completed bachelors in the UK and are starting masters will be required to hold the same level of funds as a student who is new to the UK.

A Bangalore-based student who was applying to a few UK colleges for a degree in aerospace engineering says he has to rework his bank loan and scholarship applications.

The maintenance fund, required to be in place when applying for a visa, needs to be a cash deposit; even an overdraft facility is not permitted. In case a UK-based relative is helping the overseas student, the money towards the maintenance fund needs to be transferred to the student or his parent or guardian's account. Proof of holding such fund needs to be submitted when applying for the visa.

In another significant change, overseas students who have completed further educational courses will not be permitted to extend their student (Tier 4) visa or switch to a points-based scheme visa such as a skilled worker (Tier 2) visa without first leaving the UK.

This change does not affect international students who complete a degree in the UK and then wish to start a masters course, or those who have managed to get a graduate-level job while in the country.

"As Tier 4 visas for courses of 12 or more months are normally granted for the duration of the educational course plus four months, overseas students have just four months within which to find a job or else have to return home," explains an educational counsellor attached to a UK institute.

"The UK should aim to strike a balance between maintaining its reputation as an international centre for leading study and research, while implementing measures to counter bogus educational establishments. These are very different challenges which require distinct solutions," says Margaret Burton, EY-UK partner specialising in global immigration.

"Further restrictions on legitimate students, coupled with the increased cost of studying in the UK, could have an adverse effect on the numbers of students that choose the UK as their study location. Removing students from the UK's net migration targets could help reverse that trend," adds Burton.

Students are trying to work their way around these challenges. "My counsellor has advised me to start applying at several companies, in my last semester or even earlier," says an Indian student who is hoping to get a job in London's financial sector. "If I have to return to India empty-handed, I know it will be impossible to then get a UK-based job; no investment banking outfit will agree to a telephone or Skype interview."

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