Around 160 colleges which recruit international students could be hit by the government's crackdown on the number of overseas students studying “low quality” courses.
Home secretary Amber Rudd said that student immigration rules should be “tailored” to the quality of the course in an effort to curb net migration into the UK into the “tens of thousands”.
Ms Rudd, speaking today at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, said: “We will also look for the first time at whether our student immigration rules should be tailored to the quality of the course and the quality of the educational institution.
“I’m proud that we have world-leading centres of academic excellence. It’s a testament to our country’s proud history…But the current system allows all students, irrespective of their talents…favourable employment prospects when they stop studying.”
'This isn't about pulling up the drawbridge'
“I’m passionately committed to making sure our world-leading institutions can attract the brightest and the best," Ms Rudd added. "But a student immigration system that treats every student and university as equal only punishes those we should want to help.
“This isn’t about pulling up the drawbridge. It’s about making sure students that come here, come to study. We’re consulting because we want to work with businesses and universities to get this next stage of our reforms right."
In November 2015, TES revealed that the number of students from outside the European Union applying for Tier 4 visas to study at colleges in the UK had dropped from more than 35,000 between July 2011 and June 2012 to just 17,000 in the same time period in 2014-15.
Julian Gravatt, assistant chief executive at Association of Colleges (AoC), said that around 160 colleges currently have "highly trusted" status, allowing them recruit overseas students.
"International activity in colleges contribute to UK exports and helps the sector widen the horizons of its students," he said. "The Home Office already use Ofsted ratings to decide college eligibility but this is problematic because existing Ofsted inspections don't at the moment cover international courses. International students are interested in the quality of the particular course or department they enrol in so it is good that the home secretary mentions this aspect as well. The AoC will work with officials on the details."
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