The British Council drew exactly the wrong lessons in their report on the student visa systems of Australia and the United States. That was the conclusion of an examination by Migration Watch.
Both countries now require interviews which include an element of judgement by the immigration officer as to whether the applicant is likely to return home after his course. Indeed the Americans increased their staff for this purpose. The evidence in Australia, according to the Council’s own report, is that “applicants are not likely to be discouraged by stricter requirements”. It should also be noted that both Australia and the United States check the arrival and departure of individual students. There is still no such system in Britain.
Commenting, Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said
“It is surprising that a government funded body should be issuing material designed to undercut government policy and even more surprising that they should have tried to spin their report to suggest that tightening our visa system would discourage genuine applicants. The real lesson of their report is crystal clear; student routes are open to manipulation. In our view, therefore, the government needs to reintroduce interviews for applicants, especially in countries of immigration concern. This is what our major competitors do without any negative effect on genuine and capable applicants”.