International students penalised under new government plans

Students from certain 'high risk' countries are set to be fined should they overstay their visas

From November, a new pilot scheme could see international students from ‘high risk’ countries required to pay hundreds of pounds as a bond, returned only if they leave on time.

Although David Cameron, Prime Minister, has not signed off on the policy, some reports have placed the bond at around £3,000. Details of the exact size and extent of the policy remain unclear.

Daniel Stevens, international students’ officer at the National Students Union (NUS), says he fears that this plan risks treating international students as a 'political football'.

The number of applications to universities from outside the European Union has decreased despite larger numbers of Chinese students, who are offsetting a recent drop in Indian applications.

A spokesperson for Universities UK said that it has urged the government to consider the 'unintended consequences' on demand that such a policy change might have.

Last year the coalition removed international students’ automatic right to work in the UK for two years after graduation, as part of a series of changes to UK visa policy.

Eric Thomas, the president of Universities UK, has said these changes are deterring potentially lucrative international students from studying in the UK.

The bond will initially be trialled on students from six countries, which are likely to be India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Ghana.

Overseas students currently have to prove that they have enough to money to fund one year of tuition fees and nine months of living costs, which in London could add up to at least £30, 000.

Dominic Scott, chief executive of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, commented that it was unlikely that £3,000 would be sufficiently 'decisive' should they decide to stay on illegally.

The news comes after Mark Harper, the immigration minister, said in January that universities were entering a period of where there would be a 'lot more policy stability'.