Government to review student visa system

A review of student visas is to be conducted after numbers coming to the UK leapt by one-third last year to more than 300,000, it was confirmed today.

Official figures showed that the number of students coming to Britain from outside the EU to study increased by more than 75,000 in the 12 months to March.

Immigration minister Damian Green said a "thorough evaluation" of the system would be conducted over the coming months in order to minimise abuse.

According to Home Office figures, some 313,011 non-EU students were granted visas in the 12 months up to March, bringing with them 31,385 dependants. This figure was up from 235,295 students and 24,780 dependants the previous year.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of campaign group Migrationwatch told the Daily Telegraph: "There is growing evidence that the new points-based system has provided a back door to Britain for bogus students."

Mr Green said: "We are committed to attracting the brightest and the best to the UK, and welcome legitimate students coming here for study. However, in the past there has been significant abuse of the student route, and we need to ensure that every student who comes to the UK is genuine.

"Therefore I am undertaking a thorough evaluation of the student system over the coming weeks and months and I will introduce new measures to minimise abuse and tighten the system further."

A Home Office spokesman said that no details were yet available of the scope and remit of the review. Visas for students from Pakistan and Nepal were suspended earlier this year after an unusually large rise in applications from the countries.