A PILOT scheme to streamline the process for international students coming to the UK has been extended to universities in the region.

Durham University, Newcastle University and the University of York are among 23 institutions added to the scheme.

The Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and Imperial College London are in their second year of the pilot, which will make the process easier for those looking to study on a Masters course of 13 months or less.

It also provides greater support for students who wish 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.

Universities taking part are given responsibility for eligibility checks, meaning that students can submit fewer documents at present, alongside their visa applications.

Applicants that do not meet immigration rules will be refused.

All students will continue to require Home Office security and identity checks.

Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: “There are 150 nationalities represented among our staff and students, and we value the diversity of experience our international students bring."

The additional universities to benefit include two in Scotland, two in Wales, one in Northern Ireland and from across England.