International students to be fingerprinted

Foreign students coming to the UK will be forced to provide the government with their fingerprints and prove they are sponsored by a recognised education institution, under new government guidelines announced today.

“All those who come to Britain must play by the rules,” said border and immigration minister Liam Byrne.

“It is right that foreign students wanting to take advantage of our world-class universities and colleges must meet strict criteria.”

Visas will only be granted to students with a track record in education and who are attending courses which have a minimum qualification level. They will also be expected to demonstrate an ability to financially support themselves.

Institutions wanting to accept foreign students will need to granted a license by the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

Colleges and universities could lose their license if they fail to keep copies of students’ passports or alert the authorities to any students who fail to enrol on their course.

Commenting on the plans, shadow immigration minister Damian Green said: “This new system is so full of loopholes it will be useless at best and might even encourage the growth of bogus colleges or applications.

“It is a complete joke for ministers to call this new policy a crackdown.”

International students contribute £8.5 billion to the economy every year.

The government, while promoting their tough new immigration policies, is also desperate to secure future economic benefit from foreign students.

Earlier in the year, a special visa category was created which allows successful international students from British universities to work in the UK for up to two years – a similar system to that operating in the United States which only last for one year.