Students from EU face English language tests

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Students from the EU face English language tests for the first time as part of the government’s plans for a post-Brexit immigration regime.

The crackdown is intended to prevent the student route being used to get around new rules that will be imposed to limit EU nationals coming to Britain to work.

Officials said the Home Office may need to introduce some restrictions on the tens of thousands of EU young people studying at universities and other colleges, including testing English language skills and ensuring that students have sufficient funds.

“The government welcomes and encourages EU citizens who wish to study in the UK and does not wish to restrict their access per se. However, we will need to ensure that study does not allow circumvention of any new controls on work,” the leaked Home Office document dated August 2017 said.

“Therefore we may need to introduce some restrictions to ensure students are genuinely intending to study in the way that we do for non-EU students, by checking academic ability, English language skills and sufficiency of funds.”

In 2015-16 there were 127,000 students from the EU in the UK, of whom 112,000 were full time.

The draft document highlights fears in the Home Office that the new controls planned for low-skilled and skilled EU workers may fuel abuse of the student route.

Theresa May introduced tougher checks on non -EEA (European Economic Area) migrants during her period as home secretary after the discovery of abuse, including people who arrived with little knowledge of English or who worked rather than studied.

Non-EEA students have to show they have sufficient funds to support themselves for up to nine months or the full length of their course and must also be proficient in English.

The proposals for restrictions on EU students are contained in a leaked Home Office document outlining proposals for a post-Brexit immigration system.

It outlined plans for measures aimed at prioritising British workers over those from the EU and ending the link between temporary migration and the right to settle permanently in the UK.

A spokesman for Universities UK said it had no comment to make on the draft Home Office document.

Source: The Times, September 6 2017

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