Churches oppose plans to end student visa appeals

 The Churches' Commission for International Students (CCIS) has lent its support to the Universities UK, UKCOSA and the Immigration Advisory Service in their opposition to the removal of the right of appeal for international students who are refused visas to enter the UK. CCIS, a commission of the ecumenical body, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, agrees that there are valid reasons for refusal such as forged documents and unregistered institutions of study, but considers the abolition of appeal rights to be unjust, unwarranted and counterproductive to the interests of the UK. The move to abolish the right to appeal comes in the Immigration, Asylum and Nationalities Bill, receiving its second reading in the House of Commons this week. "International students make a valuable contribution to the life of the community," said CCIS secretary Gillian Court. "The Churches have experienced visa problems for students apparently satisfying all the entry requirements for student entry into the UK. In most of these cases visas have been issued on appeal. The removal of this right will add further to the unattractiveness of the UK as a host country. We earnestly encourage the government to reconsider this proposal,'"she said. CCIS exists to serve the interests of all international students in Britain and Ireland, irrespective of their religious belief. Churches' scholarship programmes aim to encourage good international relations and to support the development of indigenous leadership. Students are sponsored by the Churches for international study in a wide range of subjects at postgraduate level. A very high proportion of these students have traditionally been placed in the UK. The Churches' involvement in international education goes back many centuries. It became especially active in the years following World War II and in the wake of the independence of former western colonial territories. During the past decade there has been a steady decline in the number of students the Churches are willing to place in the UK. In recent years that decline has been dramatic. Significant reasons for the decline are ever-increasing costs and disincentives that have created an impression of the UK as an unwelcoming environment. The Churches, as an international community, are aware of the opportunities that have opened up for study in countries other than Britain and Ireland and are making good use of them as an alternative. Source: CTBI

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