UK visa news: Overseas interest in UK schools 'on the rise'

04 May 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A growing number of school children could find themselves in need of UK visas as recent figures have revealed that interest in Britain's independent schools is growing.

The annual census from the Independent Schools Council (ISC) found a 5.5 per cent increase over the course of the last year in the number of non-British pupils at ISC schools whose parents live overseas.

As a result, there are now 24,554 non-British pupils studying at independent schools around the UK.

Responding to the figures, the chief executive of the ISC, David Lyscom, said: "This underlines the importance of the UK having a proportionate visa regime which is capable of distinguishing between independent schools and their pupils and other student migrants."

He added: "We are pleased that the UK Border Agency has listened to ISC's message and has granted all independent schools automatic Highly Trusted Sponsor status."

An increase in the number of boarding pupils, British and foreign, was also recorded, with an extra 1.7 per cent of pupils opting to reside at their place of education.

However, overall pupil numbers were shown to have dipped slightly by 0.2 per cent. But, as Mr Lyscom noted, the schools are working "against a difficult economic background".

ISC represents 1,260 of the 2,600 independent schools across the UK, with a collective student body of more than 500,000 children.

Earlier this year, Glasgow Caledonian University became the first university in the country to have its overseas student UK visa licence suspended.

The move followed investigations by UK Border Agency Inspectors, which revealed that some students were practically working full-time, contravening the conditions of their student UK visas.

A Whitehall source told the Scottish Herald: "It was found that students were working practically all the time and spent hardly any time studying and obviously we can't allow that.

"That is what employment visas are for."