International Students Myth 3: Laws should be tighter because some students stay illegally in this country after graduating.

In the third of a five-part series on common misconceptions about international students and visa lawsNicole Froio looks at the law and international students.

Myth 3: Laws should be tighter because some students stay illegally in this country after graduating.

There are no figures that actually show how many people stay in the UK illegally after graduation. There are figures to support that bogus colleges have brought around 50,000 illegal ‘students’ who aren’t studying at all, but working illegally.

It may be that the government is targeting the wrong people. The focus of immigration laws isn’t on bogus colleges that are helping illegal immigrants in, but on the students who seek education.

One of the main points of the House of Commons debate on the subject was that there are no reliable statistics to judge whether international students are the main root of the illegal immigrants problem:

“I’ve lots of statistics but ‘in every statistic lies a human story’ and we should consider that”

– Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn

Tomorrow: does scrapping the Post Study Work visa mean there will be fewer illegal immigrants in the foreign graduates’ pool? Nicole Froio blogs at and tweets at @nicolefroio.

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International Student Myth 2: It costs too much to have students in the UK

In the second of a five-part series on common misconceptions about international students and visa lawsNicole Froio looks at the cost of international students.

Myth 2: It costs too much to have students here

Foreign students usually come from wealthy families, but they are looking for something more than an education. Many are looking for an experience and for a multicultural exchange. And they bring in more money than it costs to keep them in the UK.

The following are only some of the things these students must pay for when studying in the UK: plane tickets, accommodation, food, clothes, books, and, of course, tuition fees.

Research by Universities UK suggests that Britain could miss out on £2.4bn in a decade by making the country less welcoming to foreign students. As the foreign education market is expected to double by 2020, the UK would be missing out on a huge source of money to fund the education system. It is estimated that international students contribute £8bn to the UK economy every year.

A big part of science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) Higher Education departments depend heavily on the fees paid by international students. And that’s the program most foreign students go for when in the UK.

This year Home Office’s inflexibility prevented education from gaining £66 million because Brazilian students opted for countries with more open laws like Australia and the United States. The same is happening with students from other nations – the Indian students’ applications are down by 38%.

Tomorrow: should laws on international students be tighter? Nicole Froio blogs at and tweets at @nicolefroio.

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International Students Myth 1: International students are immigrants

As politicians discuss how visa laws are affecting international students, Assistant Editor Nicole Froio investigates 5 common misconceptions about international students and visa laws in a 5 post series.

Changes to visa laws in 2011 have raised increasing concerns that the UK is becoming inhospitable to students from all over the world. Most recently, a University of Sheffield report revealed international students pumped £120 million into the economy of the city.

The report says that 8.9% of Sheffield students continue to boost the economy of Yorkshire and Humberside after graduating by contributing their skills and labour to the region.

But debates surrounding the subject have been widely based on misleading numbers and inflated statistics. Here are just 5 – and the facts behind them.

Myth 1: International students are immigrants

im·mi·grant [im-i-gruhnt] noun a person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence.

Did you know that most international students leave the UK by the end of their course? Did you know Erasmus students (an international programme where students study part of their course in another country) only stay in the country for between 6 months and a year? Did you know most scholarships from abroad dictate students must come back to their home countries?

According to a UK Border Agency report: 

“The student route is a temporary migration route, with students expected to leave on completion of their studies.”

By definition, international students are not permanent residents of the UK. But international students are still included in net immigration figures.

Technically, students aren’t immigrants, but educational transients, making the number of actual immigrants seem much larger than it really is.

The number of immigrants has decreased because fewer foreigners are coming to study in the UK, but the number of foreign permanent residents in the UK remains roughly the same.

Tomorrow: the myth of the cost of international students. Nicole Froio blogs at and tweets at @nicolefroio.

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MPs debate issues surrounding student visas in House of Commons

Members of Parliament are today debating controversial issues surrounding student visas and the inclusion of students in migration targets set by the government. See below for a Twitter commentary of the debate. 

We have also been speaking to international students in London about their concerns of being included migration targets and whether they may have been drawn away from applying to study in the UK due to the visa procedures.

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Useful education links for 24th-31st May

These are some of the education stories we found interesting between 24th-31st May 2013. 

Apprenticeships attract 11 applications per vacancy (BBC News)

Figures released this week  by the National Apprenticeship Service has found that a record 11 applications are being made for every apprenticeship vacancy in the UK. Almost 370,000 applications were submitted between February and April, while 32,600 vacancies were advertised in the same period. Subjects such as the arts, media and ICT were the most popular where applications were as high as 17 per apprenticeship.

The National Apprenticeship Service also said that there had been a 32% increase in demand for such subsidised on-the-job training placements since last year. The government currently offers small and medium-sized companies grants of £1,500 to take on 16 to 24-year-olds as an apprentice.

Students turn to gambling and medical trials to fund university (The Guardian)

Research conducted by money advice website Save the Student has found that students are resorting to high-risk strategies to fund the cost of university.

The survey of 2,300 students found that 80% do not have enough money to live on. It found that one-in-five turn to gambling and one-in-four said they would consider taking part in medical trials to find extra money to support themselves through higher education. 2% of the participants said that they would consider contacting a payday loan company to access extra cash.

Two-thirds of pupils ‘alarmed by rising cost of degree’ (The Telegraph)

The Government’s Office for Fair Access said that academics must do more to reach out to potential students. It said that universities will be forced to provide local schoolchildren with advice about the price of degree courses amid fears that too many teenagers are being put off higher education because of the increase in tuition fees.

A study published this week by the Sutton Trust found that two-thirds of schoolchildren have “significant concerns” about the cost of university. It used the findings to call for the introduction of a new system of means-tested tuition fees claiming that children are facing debts of up to £40,000.

Go-it-alone Scotland could lose study cash (Herald Scotland)

Two of Scotland’s most prestigious academic bodies have raised significant questions over the future of research funding for Scottish universities in the event of a vote for independence. In a submission to the independent Scottish Science Advisory Council, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Chemistry have raised their concerns that there would be less incentive for English-based research councils and charities to favour Scottish institutions.

Schools told: vet sports day volunteers to root out abusers (The Telegraph)

A report published by the Child Protection in Sport Unit says that volunteers at school sports days should be subject to rigorous vetting procedures. It says that schools should carry out a strict recruitment process including interviews and criminal record checks before the event takes place.

A degree too close to home? Call for price cut if students go local (The Independent)

Students who live at home while attending university should be offered cut-price  degrees costing just £5000 per year a commission into the future of higher education has recommended. The Institute for Public Policy Research argues that the discounted degrees would save the government more than £10,000 per student in maintenance loans obtained from student finance.

Calls for primaries to Visit Western Front sites (Herald Scotland)

Headteachers in Scotland have argued that primary school pupils in the country should be given the chance to visit European battlefields and war graves under plans to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Greg Dempster, general secretary of the Association of Headteachers and Deputies in Scotland (ADHS) has called on the Scottish Government to extend a £1 million fund to all schools which would help pay for pupils to visit Western Front battlefields such as the Somme and Ypres.

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Useful education links from 17th-24th May

These are some of the education stories we found interesting between the 26th April and 17th-24th May 2013. 

More than 300,000 children missing school every day  (The Telegraph)

More than 300,000 school children miss school every day according to a report released by the Department for Education. The number of children missing school has increased by 33,000 in one year because of factors including sickness, family holidays and religious festivals such as Eid. Over 6.2 children are registered at either primary or secondary schools in the UK and the report suggests that between September-December 2012, 323,634 children were absent from school.

Two private schools to axe fees and accept state funding (The Telegraph)

Two private schools in the UK are set to scrap their fees and convert into state funded schools as part of the Government’s ‘Free School’ programme.  Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Lancashire and Chetwynde School in Cumbria join 15 other schools in the UK who have decided to drop their fees and convert to the state sector in the past year. The decision follows a decline in parental demands for independent education in some parts of the country due to the economic crisis.

Majority of parents believe sex education should be compulsory in secondary schools, YouGov poll reveals (The Independent)

A new YouGov poll has revealed that the majority of parents believe that sex education lessons should be compulsory in schools. They say that schools must address the issue of sexual consent. The survey commissioned by the End Violence Against Women revealed that more than 86% of adult participants believe that lessons should also cover the topic of how to develop ‘respectful relationships’. It is also accompanied by a report which is highly critical of the lack of action taken by the Department for Education to take steps to curb abuse throughout schools.

New curriculum workload ‘too high’ EIS union survey warns (BBC Education News)

Over 80% of nursery and primary school teachers in Scotland have raised their concerns about high levels of workload pupils face under the new curriculum. A poll conducted by the Educational Institute of Scotland suggests that half of teachers across the country had little confidence in assessments under the new curriculum, The Curriculum of Excellence. (CfE)

Never mind the career prospects, follow your star when choosing degree, teenagers told (The Times)

The Chief Executive of UCAS has warned teenagers not to choose a degree subject on the basis that it might lead to a good job. Mary Curnock Cook has said that students should follow their hearts as well as their heads when applying for degree courses. Last week a survey published by Which? and the Higher Education Institute found that 32% of undergraduates might have chosen a different degree course if it had known more about the demands of the course.

More than a million primary school children unable to swim, says major survey (The Independent)

A report by the swimming governing body, the Amateur Swimming Association has revealed that more than a million primary school children are unable to swim. The report shows that 51 per cent of 7-11 year olds are unable to swim the typical length of a swimming pool which is 5 metres. The report also found that only 2 percent of primary schools reach the Government’s target of providing 22 hours of swimming lessons to children per year. It found that children receive an average of  8 hours of swimming lessons per year.

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Students and phone sex: “Why not work as a phone sex operator and pay your way through University”

Reporting from Phone Sex and Students. Rewritten and subbed by Nicole Froio.

As the number of students working on sex phone lines increases one says that it is an important way to help pay her tuition fees while at university. 

The number of female university students working for phone sex lines has doubled in the past two years, according to a BBC commissioned investigation. The numbers continue as students struggle to make ends meet after university tuition fees increased in 2010.

The number of student sex operators has risen in parallel with the changing circumstances of higher education. Women who have opted for this alternative job say the sex phone industry is attractive because the job is easy and pays very well.

Current phone sex operator and student Charlie* has been in the business since she began her University studies three years ago. She felt the pressure of her loans as soon as she started studying, but now, as an operator, she is earning enough to pay off her debts. She also says that she is still able to maintain a regular love life and even that the job is enjoyable.

She said: “We live in a world driven by money and we also live in a world where you need a good job to become successful. To get a good job, you need a good education, which often means you need to go to University. Did you ever think that we phone sex operators are only doing this job throughout education for our own good? Why not work as a phone sex operator and pay your way through University to scale down the amount of debt you are left with at the end?”

Another possible trigger for rising numbers might have been Channel 4’s show ‘My Phone Sex Secrets’. Though this is just a speculation, owner of one of the largest phone sex companies Amanda* said that she was inundated with applications after the show was broadcasted – particularly from young female students looking for an easy way to make money.

Though there are over 2,000 phone sex companies in the UK, they are widely forbidden from advertising in mass media. Most students heard of the job opportunity from word of mouth or the internet. A survey on Students and Phone Sex revealed that only 29.9% of the participants had come into contact with an advert for such services. Despite the lack of adverts and official publicity, a report published by Durex revealed the 45% of the population have tried phone sex before, with 56% researching companies on the internet.

The forums in The Student Room and Student Beans have advice on how to be a successful operator. However, members of the website Mumsnet are strongly against students being operators – they go as far as saying that being one is essentially working within the sex industry – and also blame higher tuition fees. The websites SWAAY and defend the women’s right to work as operators, posting positive stories of ex-operators and advice.

The only point the three websites find in common is that higher tuition fees are to blame.

Fellow students don’t seem to mind, as 71% of a hundred students interviewed by Phone Sex and Students (PSAS) said there is nothing wrong with it. Around 10% of interviewees know someone who is a sex operator.

Though Charlie claims the job is an easy one, PSAS discovered that the success of a phone sex operator lies in establishing yourself in the business and compiling a catalogue of reliable clients. If a newbie phone operator took 5 calls a day, they would earn £18.

With or without student sex operators, the phone sex business is thriving, as revealed by a Durex survey, that determined 45% of the population has used sex lines before.

*Names have been changed to protect their identities. 

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Half of new free schools will be created in London

Michael Gove has announced 102 new free schools which are going to open in the England in 2014. 

The schools, which are state-funded independent schools, will join the existing 81 free schools which have already opened and aim to create 50,000 new places for pupils.

The Department for Education said:

Many of the free schools approved today will be based in areas of deprivation, or where there is a shortage of school places, like the schools open or approved before them.

We’ve looked at the areas where they are going to be built and found that the majority of these new schools, almost half, will spring up in London.

The most notable absence is that there are no free schools to be opening in the North East in the latest round of announcements.

Despite London dominating the regions for the number of new free schools the most new free schools a local authority area has is 4.

Waltham Forest, Newham, Hertfordshire, Birmingham are the local authorities who will see the most free new schools. 

A breakdown of the new schools by local authority can be found below.

What age pupils will be going to the schools?

How the free schools are made up:

  • 78 are mainstream schools
  • 8 are special schools
  • 16 are alternative provision
  • 33 are primary
  • 36 are secondary
  • 11 are all through schools
  • 5 are 14 to 19 schools
  • 5 are 16 to 19 schools
  • 12 are other age groups


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Useful education links for April 23rd through May 21st

These are the education links we found interesting between April 23rd and May 21st:

  • Academy chains decide where children go to school | Education | The Guardian – Academy critics say the underlying issue is that trusts are allowed to take major decisions without the checks and balances that would be present in a local authority school set-up – either around statutory public consultation, or through voter anger on closures feeding back to elected councillors. T
  • Top school scraps 11-plus over ‘endemic’ tutoring culture – Telegraph – Chelmsford County High School for Girls will introduce a new selection system from September to stop middle-class parents subjecting children to up to six years’ worth of coaching in preparation for the admissions test. Nicole Chapman, the headmistress, said the existing 11-plus “discourages girls wh
  • Data for free schools in the pre-opening stage | Free School Talk – The free school movement continues to grow. According to the Department for Education (DfE) there are currently 116 free schools due to open in 2013 and beyond. The graphs below provide some basic details about these institutions: where they will be situated; their phase; their type. The following li
  • Academy boss quits over probe into school finances – Telegraph – It is believed Sir Bruce, who earned around £300,000 in 2010-11, including pension and expenses, agreed to quit after pressure was put on him by the organisation’s board. E-ACT is the second largest provider of academies, overseeing 31 schools educating 20,000 pupils. But the group was dealt a major
  • Thousands of school leavers ‘lost’ in jobs and training scheme | Scotland | STV News – Raising the issue at Holyrood, Labour leader Johann Lamont said: "Under freedom of information, we have established that Skills Development Scotland has identified more than 7,000 school leavers who are known to be looking for a job or training but have yet to find a a place. "But it is worse than th
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Useful education links from 10th-17th May

These are some of the education stories we found interesting between the 26th April and 10th-17th May 2013. Continue reading

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INFOGRAPHIC: Boys vs Girls absence figures for persistent offenders at special schools

We’ve analysed data from the Department for Education on the number pupils being absent from school in 2011/12 and have put together this infographic showing how boys who are persistent absentees at special schools miss more time than girls.

Read more in our full story.


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Absence figures paint a grim picture for boys with problems

Boys in special schools are three times more likely to be excluded and are twice as likely to have unauthorised absence compared to girls say the latest figures from the Department for Education.

The latest data on absence in primary, secondary and special schools, city technology colleges and academies shows the overall absence rate continued its downward trend from 6.3% in 2007/08 to 5.1% in 2011/12. There has also been a decrease in persistent absentees. Continue reading

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