NPC has new policy to oppose the introduction of visa extension charges, which will have significant impact on international postgraduates. As an action we have written to the home office and the department for education and skills, with the following concerns:
- Permission may not be given to extend a visa to the end of a course, especially where extensions are required due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Graduation ceremonies often take place several months after course completion so attendance is not financially viable.
- Research students will repeatedly need to extend their visa.
- Dates for viva examinations (which will not be determined until around the time of submission) could be several months after thesis submission.
- Undergraduates will not know of the possibility of continuing to postgraduate study until graduation. Such charges could influence their decision.
- Marketability of postgraduate courses in the UK will fall and degrade a vital aspect of the UKs economy.
- Mobility of research students is restricted due to the limitations of having to extend visas in such a way.
NPC is particularly disappointed that not even the idea of a "season ticket" for research students could be issued knowing they will need to regularly extend their visa. A response has been received from the Higher Education Minister, Alan Johnson, who claims the services will be largely improved with the charges introduced. This still, however, places concern on the marketability and attractiveness of UK postgraduate education.