UK to review PhD visa vetting

Decision raises concerns the government will strengthen restrictions on foreign-born students

Anna Farrelly
Aug 10, 2006
The UK government is reviewing its system for vetting foreign PhD students in high-risk subject areas, sparking concerns that draconian changes could harm universities' competitiveness. Under the current scheme, which is voluntary, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) asks universities to request government approval of all postgraduate research applications from students in one of 10 "countries of concern" wanting to work in a high-risk area, such as microbiology. However, in practice, adherence to the scheme is very patchy, and some universities -- including Cambridge University -- have opted out of it completely. This, according to the government, can give non-compliers a competitive advantage.The scheme was established in 1994 to prevent technology and skills that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction being transferred overseas. It was under review last year, but the process was interrupted when bombs exploded in London last July. An FCO spokesperson told The...

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