Universities back plan to curb student visa abuse Debbie Andalo Wednesday July 26, 2006EducationGuardian.co.uk Universities have welcomed the inclusion of a new points-based system for international students in the government's proposed overhaul of the immigration service, announced yesterday. Universities UK, the body representing British universities, said the recommendations of the review confirm that higher education is not a high-risk area for immigration abuse. The president of the organization, Drummond Bone, said the review "should ensure that higher education is not associated with less reputable education providers". The Home Office report confirms that a points-based system for international students wishing to study in the UK will be introduced by April 2009. Details of the new system are still subject to consultation but it is proposed that international students must be sponsored by a British college or university before they can enter the UK. Individual colleges and universities will also have responsibility for ensuring their students comply with visa regulations. The review also recommends that a Home Office register of educational providers, which would include English language colleges and schools, be established. Professor Bone said: "Universities UK welcomes the introduction of a register of education providers within the new points immigration system to ensure international students are not duped by bogus colleges and to prevent abuse of the student visa entry route into the UK. "Such a register should assist with the eradication of bogus education providers and limit fraudulent student visa applications, while ensuring genuine applications are handled efficiently." He said international students wishing to study in the UK should find the new system more straightforward. Overseas students account for 14% of fulltime UK undergraduate and 43% of postgraduates. Prof Drummond said that, by 2020, international students could be worth ?20bn to the UK economy.