Chandigarh: The decision of the British government to partially lift the ban imposed on student visa applications from north India has seen a mixed response from the students and overseas education consultants.
“This is not a very encouraging move as only those students would be benefited who are applying for degree courses. But from this part of the country very few students apply for degree or postgraduate courses in UK,” Sophia, city-based education consultant and immigration expert for the UK, told IANS.
“Main reason behind this is higher tuition fees and tough screening for these courses. Therefore most students prefer diploma or certificate courses, where there is no relief as of now,” she pointed out.
Manjinder Singh, another overseas education consultant here, said: “Bulk of the students from Punjab and Haryana, who are going to the UK for higher studies, enroll in one or two-year diploma course (where there is no relief). Many of our students have already paid fees, worth lakhs of rupees, and the threat of losing money is looming over them.”
The UK Border Agency had temporarily stopped accepting student visa application from Feb 1 at its three centres in north India for an indefinite period after seeing a sudden surge in the number of applications.
There was a ten-fold increase in the student visa applications during the period October to December 2009 at three centres in Chandigarh, Jalandhar and New Delhi.
Last year, they received 13,500 applications during this period whereas only 1,800 and 1,200 were received in 2008 and 2007, respectively.
However, Britain’s Minister for Business Innovation and Skills Pat Mc Fadden Saturday said that from March 1, the tier-4 visa applications suspension will be lifted for students applying for higher education courses like foundation degrees and undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.
“I had applied for admission to one year Fine-Arts certificate course in an institution based in London, as I could not afford a degree course. I have already paid the tuition fees. Now I am afraid of losing my precious money and time,” Anmol Sharma, a student, told IANS.
“We want UK Border Agency to start processing of applications of all courses at the earliest. We know that it is necessary to weed out unscrupulous agents but it should not be done at the cost of genuine applicants,” said Varun Saini, another student, who aspires to study abroad after completing his engineering.
As per official records, Britain’s visa operation in India is its largest in the world.