The UK Chamber has welcomed an announcement by the Home Office to reform immigration rules for international students, extending the time limit to three years for educational courses which are below degree level but subject to MCA regulations that the applicant must spend 12 months at sea.
Until now, international students within the Tier 4 (general) visa route are subject to restrictions on the maximum period of time they can study at a specific level. The time limit for those studying at below UK bachelor’s degree level was reduced from three years to two in 2015.
The change was intended to bring the permitted study period in line with the standard time spent by resident students studying at this level.
Following representations from the UK Chamber of Shipping, Merchant Navy Training Board and others, Government accepted that whilst the two year maximum was appropriate for most courses, it could have the effect of not allowing seafarers from overseas to complete their training.
Glenys Jackson, Director of the Merchant Navy Training Board, said:
“This change is hugely welcome. It will provide the means for our maritime education institutions to offer a world class seafaring education to people across the world – something which has recently been in jeopardy.
“As the UK moves towards its exit from the European Union, this announcement proves that Government is determined for the UK to play a leading, global role in maritime education.”
Tim Springett, Policy Director of the UK Chamber, said:
“Officer trainees from overseas support the viability of the UK’s maritime training infrastructure. The popularity of the UK’s courses and the high value placed on the UK Certificate of Competency is testimony to the quality of officer training in the UK. We are delighted that the Home office has recognised this.”