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UK alters student visa system

THE United Kingdom has launched a new points-based system for study in the UK and all Chinese students who want to study in the UK must apply for visas through the new system from March 31, the British Consulate said yesterday in Shanghai.

To get a student visa, a student must first earn 30 points to apply for a visa letter from an approved education provider and then rack up 10 further points in the financial section to prove they have the funds to cover course fees and monthly living costs.

For the first time, all UK education providers need a license from the UK Border Agency, an immigration department, to provide courses for international students.

There have been several cases of international students who have been enrolled in bogus colleges with no qualifications in the UK. But with the new system students cannot get visas if the language schools, colleges or universities at which they intend to study do not have the requisite licenses.

"This will help the UK government crack down on bogus colleges," said Carma Elliot, the British consul general in Shanghai.

So far, more than 1,000 UK institutions have signed up to sponsor international students. Licensed institutions can be viewed at the UK Border Agency Website (

To get another 10 points, students need to prove they have the cash to cover course fees for the first year of study and living costs - 800 pounds a month (US$1,100) for those studying in London - for up to a maximum of nine months.

"The changes to the visa system will allow self-assessment before application, making the whole system more straightforward," Elliot said.

More than 60,000 Chinese students are studying full-time in the UK, according to the British Consulate.


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