Swinson slams Javid over student visas

Jo Swinson has slammed Home Secretary over his inflexible 3 year student visas for EU nationals in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

For a start, Scottish degree courses last four years.

From The Herald:

The Russell Group of elite universities, which includes Glasgow and Edinburgh, urged UK ministers to scrap the European Temporary Leave to Remain (ELTR) visa.

The Home Office has proposed that if there is a no-deal Brexit, EU citizens would only be able to stay in the UK for three months before being required to obtain an ELTR.

This would let them to live, work and study in the UK for 36 months but would be “non-extendable”.

Although the Government says a new visa system would be devised by 2021, there are no details, leading to fears the ELTR could act as a deterrent to would-be students.

Jo said:

The Scottish University system is a world leader in part because it attracts students from all over the globe who enrich our culture and help grow our economy, but the Government’s new visa plan risks damaging that reputation.

The Home Secretary is asking students who want to study in Scotland to commit to a four-year course with only a guarantee of a non-extendable three-year visa. He has a degree in economics, so he doesn’t need me to tell him that four into three just doesn’t work.

The Home Secretary likes to talk about building an immigration system that attracts the best and the brightest, but what message does it send to students looking to come here when we won’t even guarantee them a visa long enough to cover their studies?

The Government need to urgently rethink their plans and guarantee these students leave to remain to not just complete their studies, but to potentially stay here and contribute to our economy in the years after they graduate.

Jo wrote to Sajid Javid to set out her concernsThe full text of her letter is below:

Dear Sajid,

I am writing to you regarding Government plans to introduce a new immigration category –  European Temporary Leave to Remain (ETLR)in the event of ‘no deal’. I am very concerned about the impact this new category will have on Scottish universities’ ability to attract EEA nationals post-Brexit in a no deal scenario.

ETLR is a 36-month non-extendable visa, which will be of little use to EEA students considering university study in Scotland where degrees are generally four years in length. ETLR simply does not provide the leave necessary for EU students starting courses in 2019/20 or 2020/21 to commit to studying in Scotland.

The latest data from the Higher Education Statistics Authority shows that in 2017/18, 21,605 students came from other EU countries to study in Scotland. These students enrich our culture, support our economy and very often put down roots in Scotland and remain here after their studies are over.

Your proposed visa-system asks these students to commit to a four-year course with the promise of only a three-year visa. As a graduate of economics and a former City banker, I am sure you will appreciate that those numbers simply don’t add up.

This is not an issue just for students wishing to study in Scotland. There are a number of degree courses at universities across the UK that are longer than three years, including, for example, medicine, languages and architecture.

With the Government refusing to take no-deal off the table, and now potentially facing a delay to Brexit beyond March 29th, this issue will be at the forefront of the minds of students going through the application process in the next few months for the 2019/2020 academic year.

I understand your department believes that these students will be able to transfer onto a new, as of yet undetermined, visa category in the future, but that is no use to students who need the certainty to apply now. Sadly, ‘Trust us, we’ll look after you’ is not a message that carries much weight when coming from a department that deported British citizens of the Windrush generation and wanted to charge EU citizens £65 for the right to stay in the country they call home.

I know you are a supporter of the Higher Education system and the value that it brings the UK, including Scotland, so I would ask you to reflect on why your new visa system discriminates against Scottish universities, in comparison to other UK universities, in this way.

I would call on the Home Office to offer a guarantee to ensure students starting courses in 2019/20 or 2020/21 are given leave to remain to not only complete their courses in full, but also have the rights to post-study work visas afforded to other students.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Swinson

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5 Comments

  • Holly Matthies 2nd Mar '19 - 9:01am

    Jo is quite right to make the point about Scotland, and in the process she’s standing up for disabled people and mature students in England as well.

    While not all English degrees are four years, some offer a foundation year which is a particular benefit to disabled students and other marginalized groups that might otherwise struggle to access university, so the baffling inflexibility is ableist — unsurprisingly as so much of the UK’s immigration aystem goes out of its way to discriminate against disabled people!

  • R A Underhill 2nd Mar '19 - 10:05am

    The Times has a feature in Times2 about people who have a degree but do not understand that they do not have common sense. An example is:
    “Elisa’s father has three daughters.
    The first two are named April and May.
    What is the third daughter’s name?”

    Answer/s on page 5, 25/2/2019.
    Could this be relevant to Brexit?

  • May I ask R A Underhill who asked the question?

  • Andrew McCaig 3rd Mar '19 - 7:07pm

    The government does not currently restrict people from outside the EU to 3 years. I know several such people who have completed “integrated masters” degrees which last 4 years and lead to qualifications such as MPhys or MEng. This sounds like a typical case of the right hand not knowing anything, let alone what the right hand is doing.
    Absolute stupidity over student visas has been a hallmark of Theresa May and her sidekicks for 9 years now, so we should hardly expect any change. I remember her early days when the monthly quota system prevented a large number of overseas students from starting their courses at my university until November, missing over 5 weeks of teaching

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