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UK student visa regime under spotlight again

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The UK Border Agency has announced yet another review of the UK student visa scheme after the number of students coming to the UK from outside the EU more than trebled last year.

According to government statistics, 313,011 non-EU students and 31,385 of their dependants were issued visas in the period between April 2009 to March 2010. This represents an increase of 75,000 compared to the previous year when 235,295 students and 24,780 dependants were issued visas.

Explaining the need for a review to BBC News, Immigration Minister Damian Green said:

"We are committed to attracting the brightest and the best to the UK, and welcome legitimate students coming here for study. However, in the past there has been significant abuse of the student route, and we need to ensure that every student who comes to the UK is genuine.

"Therefore I am undertaking a thorough evaluation of the student system over the coming weeks and months and I will introduce new measures to minimise abuse and tighten the system further."

Earlier this year, the previous Labour government temporarily suspended issuing permits to students from North India, Nepal and Bangladesh, after concerns about a steep rise in applications, and also introduced a raft of new measures and rules designed to make it harder to enter the UK to study.

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