08 December 2009
Report shows UK is missing out of thousands of genuine UK Student Visa applications
A report by the UK Council for International Student Affairs has found that Britain is losing tens of thousands of overseas students, worth billions to the economy.
The study found that the new UK Student Visa system has led confusion, and immigration officials are often misinterpreting the rules and refusing visas to genuine students.
The new points-based UK immigration system was designed to crack down on bogus students and prevent them from entering the country only to work illegally.
Currently, UK Home Office figures show that overseas students contribute £8.5bn a year to the British economy and their fees amount to 8 per cent of the total income of British universities. A problem with UK Student Visa processing that turns away genuine students threatens a huge source of revenue, as well undermines the country’s international reputation and a provider of higher education.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs study questioned 2,777 international students who applied for a UK Student Visa between July and September.
It found that two-fifths of the students had experienced difficulties or encountered "errors or obstructions" from UK Border Agency staff at a British Embassy or high commission that had put them off studying in Britain or resulted in them being refused visas.
For example, one applicant had been refused a visa for putting her nationality as "Nigeria" rather than "Nigerian".
UK Immigration minister Phil Woolas admitted last month that more than 23,000 overseas students had been forced to reapply for their student visas in the last six months and had been granted them on the second or third attempt.
The study also found that in at least five cases, immigration officials prevented students from bringing their young children to Britain.
Universities UK, the umbrella group for vice-chancellors, have said that 24 per cent of universities missed their targets for international students this year, largely because of the UK Student Visa processing issues.
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their UK Visa applications.