ESSEX University students are protesting about new immigration policies which they say are causing problems for international students.

Before the Government’s new Immigration Bill, students were given a few months in which to go home following the completion of their studies.

This allowed time for some students to apply for internships or to apply to stay in the country but the bill has meant students must leave as soon as their studies are finished.

Essex University has around 5,000 international students affected by the bill which also means they now have to have £9,000 to renew their visas during their studies.

Emma Quixley, 24, events and communications assistant for the Southend Student Union, said: “We are standing in solidarity with our international students. Changes in policy to tier four visas affect international students and make their lives more difficult because they have to go back as soon as their studies are finished they have to leave the UK straight away under the new rules.

“One of our students has until December to return home and is using that time to do an internship before going home to his country. It means they can’t use that time to find jobs or to extend their visas if they want to.

“They also have to have at least £9,000 in their bank accounts if they want to extend their visas to resit tests or resubmit work. It doesn’t make a very good atmosphere for international students when we are basically saying you can come here to study but after that it’s “see you later”.

Shola Akinyemi, 33, who was a business student at Essex University before being employed by the student union for a year as vice president.

Mr Akinyemi from Nigeria said: “Last year there were 195 students from Nigeria and this year it is down to 96. People will be going to universities in other countries instead of coming here.

“If we don’t speak out against it it’s going to affect universities all over the country.”

University of Essex vice chancellor Professor Anthony Forster said: “The University of Essex is one of the most international universities in the UK and is ranked in the top 10 per cent of universities in the world for our international outlook.

“We have 140 nations represented within our student and staff community and this internationalisation enriches our community and provides an invaluable contribution to the university’s success, both in terms of our research and in terms of the education and student experience that we pride ourselves on providing.

“It is therefore right that we at Essex advocate and champion internationalisation, and that we should speak out in support of internationalisation.”