I write in response to the article in The Hindu, entitled “U.K. student visa system in chaos” (October 16).
The article gives a misleading impression of the U.K. student visa application process. The student visa process is not in chaos. We have seen year on year increases in the number of student visas issued in India and 2009 is no exception. Across South Asia, the number of student visa applications so far this year has reached unprecedented levels. While this increase in applications is welcome, it has presented challenges for us. However, I am pleased to say that in India the majority of student applications have been processed within our published target of 15 working days.
In Pakistan, the British Home Minister recently assured customers of our commitment to reduce processing times, and we have been prioritising student visa applications to prevent frustrating legitimate applicants who risk missing the start of their courses.
We have taken every step to ensure the rules are clear and advice on the application processes is available to our customers.
We welcome genuine international students and our aim is to ensure that they get a quality education with a licensed education provider in the U.K. But at the same time we need to prevent abuse of the immigration process and maintain the security of the U.K. There are clear reporting channels with the U.K. Border Agency to achieve this: first, the U.K. education provider is obliged to report any international student who does not comply with the terms of his or her visa and fails to attend classes; and second, a student can report if the institution falls short of its obligations to provide a quality education.
We have introduced tough checks around the world for anyone applying for a visa to enter the U.K. We make no apologies for these checks or the checks made on arrival in the U.K. These are designed to protect the public in the U.K., including South Asian students.
Regional Director, UK Border Agency, South Asia and the Gulf British High Commission, New Delhi