PETALING JAYA: While some Malaysians feel that the new restrictions on bringing families via student visas by the United Kingdom government will divert people to other countries, others are more understanding of its position to control migration.
Viviantie Sarjuni, 42, who is doing her Master’s at University of Strathclyde, said the regulations prohibiting Malaysians studying in the UK from bringing their families will have significant implications for students who rely on family support.
Vivantie is currently accompanied by her husband, who works remotely managing their social enterprise, Borneo Specialty Coffee, located in Cyberjaya.
“Living in the UK can be an overwhelming experience, especially for first-timers, with unfamiliar weather, surroundings, and people, while also juggling academic commitments.
“Having my spouse’s support has been invaluable, particularly for my emotional and psychological well-being.
“Additionally, the housing crisis that occurred in Glasgow in September 2022 made finding accommodation challenging. If it wasn’t for my husband’s presence, I would have been hopping from one place to another,” she told The Star.
She said the policy may discourage prospective students from choosing the United Kingdom.
The new policy is aimed at cutting migration by restricting international students from bringing family members for courses except postgraduate research.
International students will also not be allowed to switch their visa from student to work until their studies have been completed.
The changes will come into effect beginning January 2024.
Daniel Teoh, 32, who did his Master’s in political communication at Brunel University London, said the policy will have an adverse effect on the British education sector in the midst of Brexit and the rise of other educational destinations.
“I think given that the British education sector is their most lucrative industry, this restriction may not be a wise move.
“I understand this move is aimed at tackling their mass immigration problem, but you need to address that particular problem instead of penalising your most profitable business,” Teoh said.
Former Cardiff University engineering student Rizwana Bashir Ahmad, 36, said the new policy could be a good way for the government to control migration as the people in the UK are facing issues with homelessness and a lack of jobs.
“I think it is nice to have family around but I am unsure if it is really good for kids.
“This is because they spend a few years there in school, only to get uprooted once their parents’ courses get completed,” she said.
A postgraduate student based in Britain, who wished to be only known as Vincent, said it was not a simple yes or no question regarding the policy, but he understood concerns about wanting to reduce migration.
But he said there were many talented professionals who took a break from their career to pursue their postgraduate education.
“As such, not every post-grad student is looking to immigrate because some might just want to bring their family members to experience life abroad and feel less lonely,” he said.
According to reports last year, 135,788 visas were granted to foreign students’ dependants, which was said to be nearly nine times the figure in 2019.