HL Deb 17 November 2003 vol 654 cc247-8WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in deciding the fees to be charged for applications for extensions of leave to remain by temporary residents in the United Kingdom:

  1. (a) they gave special consideration to the needs of international students;
  2. WA 248
  3. (b) they had consultations with universities and organisations representing students; and
  4. (c)they estimated that, in the light of the Prime Minister's initiative to promote United Kingdom higher education internationally, the charges would encourage or discourage prospective international students. [HL5014]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal)

Special arrangements are in place for students under the Student Batch Scheme. The Student Batch Scheme was conceived in 2000 in consultation with United Kingdom COSA to provide a service that chimed with the Prime Minister's initiative to attract overseas students to the UK. Under the terms of the scheme, universities and colleges of further and higher education can send applications in batches, and students benefit from personal contact with the international student advisers who submit the batches.

To date this autumn the vast majority of Student Batch Scheme applications have been completed within three weeks of receipt. To cope with the very large number now coming in, extra casework teams have been devoted to these applications.

We will be reviewing the fee annually and as such consideration will be given to improving the way the charging system is operated and the feasibility of differential charges. We will consult with the education sector on those areas where we have flexibility.

We do not believe the charge will act as a disincentive when set against the other costs which students incur.

We recognise the contribution overseas students make to the UK but do not accept that the general taxpayer should subsidise their applications. The benefits are, after all, reciprocal.

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