Call for evidence from Higher
Education sector to inform

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) has begun an inspection of the relationship between the immigration system and the higher education sector in the UK. To help inform the inspection, anyone with relevant professional knowledge or personal experience within the higher education sector is invited to submit evidence by emailing The call for evidence will remain open until 15 November 2021.

The ICIBI is an independent monitoring body of the Home Office, which exists to monitor and report on the efficiency and effectiveness of the immigration, asylum, nationality and customs functions carried out by the Home Secretary and by officials and others on her behalf. The Chief Inspector is a public appointee and independent from government. His reports are laid before Parliament.

What will the inspection focus on?

The purpose of the inspection is to assess the extent to which the Home Office’s immigration functions support the objectives laid out in the UK government’s International Education Strategy, which was updated in February 2021.

The inspection is expected to adopt a broad perspective on the interaction between the UK’s immigration system and the higher education sector, assessing areas such as:

  • The efficiency and effectiveness of the post-Brexit points-based immigration system for international students and staff
  • The sufficiency of provision for the mobility of short-term students, academic visitors and individuals undertaking permitted paid engagements
  • The extent and quality of communication and engagement between the Home Office and the higher education sector
  • The fitness for purpose of the Home Office’s licensing system for visa sponsorship, including compliance requirements
  • The availability and usefulness to the higher education sector of guidance for study and work applications
  • The quality of service and consistency of information provided to participating higher education institutions by the Home Office’s Premium Customer Service schemes
  • The competitiveness of the UK’s immigration ‘offer’ to international students and staff, including considerations such as: cost, ease of navigation the system, accessibility for dependants and availability of post-study immigration routes.

Evidence submitted to the Chief Inspector can be both what is working well under the current system and what could be improved. Submissions touching on any and all areas of interest to the sector, including those not listed above, are welcome.

Information received in response to the call for evidence will play an important role in shaping the scope and focus of the investigation.

Data Protection

Any information submitted may be quoted in the final inspection report, but it is the ICIBI’s policy not to name sources and to anonymise as must as possible any examples or case studies.

In accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), you must give your permission for the ICIBI to process and retain the information you submit. By clicking here, a consent statement will automatically be added to your email. Alternatively, you can send your submission to, with ‘Higher education sector call for evidence’ in the subject line and the following consent statement in the body of your email:

“I consent to the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration retaining and processing the information and data in this email.”

Support with higher education sponsorship

If you are a higher education provider sponsoring international students and require some support with the sponsorship process, Smith Stone Walters can help.

Our dedicated sponsor licencing team can assist with everything from initial sponsor licence applications and renewals to mock audits and delivering training to ensure ongoing compliance. To find out how we can help, please contact us today.

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