NPC/06/12/A - A consultation on a new charging regime for immigration and nationality fees

Q1 Do you think that we should set prices flexibly to take into account wider policy objectives such as attracting international students and people on business?

Yes

Comment: The National Postgraduate Committee believes that there should be a differentiation in prices to attract international students. International Students bring in substantial income to the United Kingdom but are limited in their ability to transfer this money with them.

We further believe that there should not be a differentiation within student fees.

Q2 Should prices reflect a range of factors, or only those that are of value to the migrant?

Factors of value to the migrant Comment: The NPC believes that prices should not reflect a range of factors for the pricing of International Students. We believe that as many international students bring families into the UK, they would face increased hardship though a consideration of a range of factors. Such a system for judging a range of factors would overcomplicate the system and would increase the costs associated with running the system.

We assert the value of international students to the vibrancy of the UK, its economy and society and feel that it would be unfair to judge students according to a range of factors which would ignore their desire for active participation in the UK Higher Education system.

Q3 Do you think that applications for citizenship should be priced according to value or to the costs of processing the application?

Value Costs

Comment N/A

Q4 With which of the following statements do you agree:

a) Fees should be set to help promote the UK as a competitive destination YES

b) Fees should be set according to the same principles , but might vary between the UK and overseas

c) Fees for the same service should be the same in the UK and overseas YES

(You may choose more than one option)

Comment: The National Postgraduate Committee has lobbied previously and continues to believe fees are offputting to attracting international students and believes that no fees would be better in creating a competitive destination for international students. The visa cost of entering international students should be met by general taxation to the benefit of students seeking to study in the UK and to recognise their value economically and socially to the UK.

While recognising the existence of fees currently, we believe that fees should not vary in cost for application between the UK and overseas to show that we value and actively seek international students and to highlight the attractiveness of higher education for both UK and overseas applicants.

Q5 Should employers and educational institutions be able to include payment of visa fees within sponsorship and certificate fees for international employees and students?

Yes

Comment : The NPC believes this would be of benefit to international students and particularly international postgraduate students who may seek sponsorship or funding from their respective governments. Including visa fees in the total certificate or degree cost would remove the hidden nature of visa application fees to an already expensive process and Higher Education Institution fees.

Q6 What help would sponsors need to ensure that they are acting legally in bringing in particular migrants?

Comment The NPC feel it is the duty of institutions to ensure support for international students by employing advisers in Immigration law. The UK government should liaise and support this process, running an information Hub to guide these advisers in changes to the process and supporting the process.

Institutions would also be best supported by an agency or body within UK VISAS and Universities UK organisations to facilitate the sharing of best practice and support in handling the visa application process. This would particularly support institutions with specific needs for international and postgraduate students such as the extension of visas with regard to writing-up students or on a month by month extension.

Q7 How might any impact on small and medium-sized businesses be minimised?

Comment : N/A

Q8 What special measures might be needed for cultural and specialist groups?

Comment : The NPC believes international students, as a specialist group should be exempt from fees.

We recognise that fees have been introduced but believe that one fee should cover the whole student stage. This would be particularly important for postgraduates going into a writing-up year or period of time where they might not be recognised as completing their programmes.

International postgraduate students entering their writing year should be able to apply for a visa extension but not pay an extension fee. Removing the fee would ease administrative burdens and most importantly support the international student to complete their programme by removing financial burden and worry.

Due to the specialist nature of students the NPC further believes that UK VISAs should visit institutions to extend visas in person. This would create a dialogue between institutions and the Visa application process and furthermore ease administration and support the student more practically.

Q9 Do you think that any of the proposals outlined would impact adversely on community relations?

No

Comment : The NPC believes that the proposals would not impact adversely on community relations.

We do however feel that fees act as a deterrent to international students and therefore challenge the ability of institutions to broaden their programmes and institutional internationalisation. International students add to the vitality, learning experience of institutions and their surrounding areas. To ensure a diverse society and the associated benefits of cultures mixing international students should be encouraged and fees should be removed or lessened to support this process.