Panic about UK Student Visas May Be Premature
The UK government has published a consultation on POTENTIAL reforms to the student visa system.
The Chinese media has reported widely on one proposal in particular: that the UK may cancel its Post-Study Work program, or PSW.
Currently, the PSW allows international students to work in the UK for up to two years after graduation.
Newspapers in China have framed the reform as a huge blow to Chinese studying in the UK. One suggested that 20 000 Chinese students may have to leave the country next year.
CRI's Allie Johnson takes a closer look.
News reports in China have framed the reforms to UK student visas as a sure thing. Many have made claims about thousands of Chinese students who will likely have to leave the UK in the coming months when their visas expire.
But Jazreel Goh British Council in Beijing says these claims have a bit misunderstanding.
We have seen some media reports and unfortunately people do jump ahead and assume that whatever is in the consultation is now the policy. But that's not the case.
Goh says the consultaion is just that: a discussion. And the UK government is inviting all stakeholders to weigh in on the conversation. And nothing will be decided until after January 31st.
"The whole consultation might lead to a change in what's being discussed and so until the policy is actually finalized we won't know what the impact will be like."
Goh adds that the potential changes are targeting those who abuse the system to immigrate illegally.
This is not about Chinese students. This is about net migration.
She says that Chinese students are particularly unlikely to be affected by the reforms. With the economy booming, most Chinese students want to go home after their studies.
"We have always attracted a very niche group of Chinese students who are keen to gain international qualifications and experience in the UK but who actually have no intention to gain long-term residency."
One of these students is Zhao Jing Yi, who plans to study in the UK next year.
Zhao isn't worried about rule changes.
She feels most Chinese students don't plan to work in the UK after they graduate.
The kinds of jobs they're likely to get there aren't very appealing.
"I think they still want to have a very good job. And if they can get a good job in China they won't stay in the UK for really long just to waste time."
But some people feel Chinese students could be impacted. Wang Wei is the managing director of Wise Way International, an academic recruiting company that helps send Chinese students to the UK. He hopes the Post Study Work program won't be cut.
"People who get experience overseas will enhance their ability to deal with international companies. So I think it's increasingly important. So completely eliminating this two years opportunity is not good news for students."
Still, Wang agrees it is simply too early to tell what reforms will look like. And he,too, feels that media have sensationalized the facts.
"I think, yeah, media should really look at the issue and try to tell a complete picture to the public."
Both Wang Wei and Jazreel Goh recommend that anyone concerned about the proposal give their feedback on the UK government's website.
For CRI, I'm Allie Johnson.