Higher education leaders say that the new pilot scheme to test UK student visas at four universities in the south of England is not representative.
The two-year trial, which will apply to international Masters students, allows them to submit fewer documents with their visa application and crucially means they can remain in Britain to look for a job through the Tier 2 visa process for six months after completing their course.
But universities elsewhere in the UK have questioned why only Imperial College London and the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Bath have been selected to test the scheme, The Times Higher Educational Supplement reported.
Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield said that the scheme did not go far enough.
He added: “As a country now more than ever we need to show in words and deed that we are open to the world, and that our universities and research are world-class precisely because they draw on talented undergraduate and postgraduate students from every continent on the globe.”
The University of Glasgow also called for “more creative ways” of approaching the issue. Vice-principal for internationalisation, James Conroy, said that the pilot should have been “more distributed”.
He said that although some parts of the UK were keen to limit the number of migrants coming into their areas, this was not the case in Scotland.
He said: “We, certainly in Scotland, would warmly welcome people from anywhere prepared to make a contribution to Scottish life.”
The universities of Bedfordshire and Warwick also questioned the “modest” remit of the scheme, which offers less to international students than the previous post-study work visa. The old scheme allowed students to remain in the UK for two years after graduating to look for work.