Britain’s Interior Ministry, the Home Office, said on Monday that it is to extend a streamlined visa processing scheme for international Masters students.
It followed a pilot scheme, now in its second year, at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and Imperial College London.
The piloted process for international students looked at students wanting to study on a Masters course of 13 months or less in the Britain.
It also provides greater support for students who wished to switch to a work visa and take up a graduate role, by allowing them to remain in the UK for six months after they have finished their course.
Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said: “The expansion of this pilot is part of our ongoing activity to ensure that our world-leading institutions remain highly competitive.
“The UK continues to be the second most popular destination for international students and the number coming to study at our universities has increased by 24 per cent since 2010.
“This is a clear indication that genuine students are welcome and there is no limit on the number who can come to study in the UK.’’
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Universities taking part are given responsibility for eligibility checks, meaning that students can submit fewer documents than required in the current process alongside their visa applications.
“All students will continue to require Home Office security and identity checks.’’
The most recent Home Office statistics showed that the number of students applying for visas increased by eight per cent over the past year and there has been a nine per cent increase in the number of students applying to Britain’s Russell Group universities.
The 23 additional universities would be able to apply the pilot to their 2018/2019 intake.
The universities were selected as their visa refusal rates are consistently the lowest in their area or region.
The 23 universities to be added to the pilot are: Cardiff, Goldsmiths University of London, Harper Adams, Newcastle, Queen’s University Belfast, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Bristol, Durham, East Anglia, Edinburgh, Essex, Exeter, Glasgow, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, University of Wales Trinity St. David (Swansea Campus), Warwick, and York.