Overseas students undertaking courses at a group of leading local colleges will now be able to work in the area thanks to a reform in student visas.
WCG (formerly known as Warwickshire College Group) regularly welcomes more than 400 international students from over 40 countries, with the majority based at its two centres in Leamington and Rugby.
They study a range of courses including accounting, history, maths, physics and law mostly on one or two-year courses and often then move on to complete degrees at universities inducing Warwick and Coventry.
However, until this coming academic year, overseas students have not been able to work while completing their studies in the UK under the existing Tier 4 sponsor licence.
But that has now changed for institutions with Higher Education provision that hold a Tier 4 licence, have a track record of compliance for four or more years, and is registered with the Office for Students (OfS).
Students studying a full-time course will now be able to combine their studies with 10 hours work a week in term time and full-time employment during vacations.
WCG believes the change of status spells good news for local business in a range of sectors – as well as for future recruitment to its courses.
Peter Husband, Chief Operating Officer & Group Principal for WCG, said: “We feel this is very good news for our students, the local economy and for WCG. Students often want to combine working with their studies not only to help them fund their living costs but also to really get a flavour of the area.
“Until now that has not been possible and that has been quite restrictive on the students meaning that a cohort of bright, international, mostly young people have not been able to contribute to the local economy.
“By their very nature, they have language skills which would be of massive use particularly in their area and in a range of sectors, but especially tourism and leisure.
“We are delighted the Government has made this decision and we are sure that it will have a very positive impact.”
WCG recruits through agents based abroad and the new status will hugely boost its appeal to those looking to come to the UK to study.
Peter added: “We know that WCG in terms of its record and its location is very attractive to those who want to come to the UK to study often with the intention of continuing their education elsewhere at degree level.
“The restriction on their ability to earn at the same time as learning has put WCG at a disadvantage against some other university or education institutions so we are confident this change will be a considerable boost to our recruitment efforts.
“We also feel that if a student works locally during their time with WCG they are more likely to remain in the area when they leave us and that has to be good for the local economy.”