Tougher rules will mean significantly fewer visas given to foreign students as part of a crackdown on abuses to the UK system.
Applicants will now need to speak English to near-GCSE level and will be banned from bringing dependents if enrolled on short courses.
According to Home Secretary Alan Johnson, almost a third of migrants who came into Britain were on student visas, and a number of them were on short courses.
The government has come under increased pressure to tighten border controls following the Detroit bombing attempt over Christmas.
The “points-based” system introduced last year, granting students visas with proof they can pay the fees and support themselves while in the UK, has faced strong criticism for allowing terrorist suspects and other would-be immigrants to enter Britain. According to critics, because of a lack of exit checks, many stay on despite their visas being temporary.
The new measures are likely to slash the number of visas granted by tens of thousands.
Last December, Study Group, the UK’s biggest independent supplier of international students to universities in Britain, warned changes to the UK’s student visa system could cost the economy billions of pounds.
Mr Johnson, speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, insisted the UK remains open for foreign students who come to Britain for legitimate study.
“We have to be careful that we are not damaging a major part of the UK economy, between £5 billion and £8 billion,” he said.
(Pictured: Home Secretary Alan Johnson)