Visa freeze affected students not to be compensated

`Students can seek fee refund from colleges’

2nd February 2010
: It’s not getting any better for Indian, Nepali and Bangladeshi students aspiring to study in the UK. Over two days after the UK Border Agency announced its decision against accepting any new students’ visa applications from 1 February 2010 at its centres in North India, Bangladesh and Nepal, it’s now clear the affected would not be compensated.

The British High Commission has dismissed any responsibility to compensate the affected students in India on the ground it was an arrangement between colleges and students.

The assertion follows queries by students, who were to join courses in February or the Spring quarter.

They now face not only the possibility of losing the fee submitted to institutions, but also academic period, particularly in cases where licences of institutions have been suspended by the UK authorities following recent crackdown.

As of now, the authorities have advised the aspirant students to proceed with caution. Deputy high commissioner Nigel Casey and regional manager of UK Border Agency Charlie Molloy have asked them to consult well, check websites, approach professional agents and make informed choice before applying for courses in educational institutions in the UK to avoid problems later on. They have added the students can take legal recourse, if the institutions are not accommodating.

Explaining the trend, the authorities concerned believe ‘displacement’ reason could be behind the huge rush, as students from countries like Australia could be shifting to UK. At the same time, some applicants could have been misled into believing that student visa was a good way of gaining entry into the UK, they said.

Casey said education links between India and the UK were a vital part of bilateral relations; and they were keen that Indian students should continue to study in the UK. But some applicants were attempting to abuse the visa processes and they would not let this happen, he asserted.

Till now, the authorities have not set any date for restoring normal visa service for students.

The decision was announced on 31st January 2010. The head of the points-based system at the UK Border Agency, Jeremy Oppenheim, said: ‘The points-based system gives us the flexibility to act to maintain the integrity of the visa system, while processing legitimate applications fairly, thoroughly and as quickly as possible.

‘We continually check and monitor all student applications and education providers to ensure that they meet the required standards set by the points-based system. As a result of this routine monitoring and an increase in applications, we have temporarily stopped accepting new applications from North India, Nepal and Bangladesh while we carry out an investigation to ensure they are all genuine.

‘We will take tough action against those who attempt to abuse the system.’

The Regional, Director of UK Border Agency, Chris Dix, said the High Commission would not accept any student visa application at its centre in New Delhi. Other north centres in cities such as Chandigarh and Jalandhar also will not admit any student application.

The dramatic increase in the number of student visa seekers had raised concern for the immigration authorities. Compared to the applicants in 2007 and 2008, the number was enormous this year.

The applicants were 13, 500 between October and December 2009, while the number was 1,800 in 2008 and 1000 in 2007. Dix elaborated that they would examine all applications to see if they were genuine and financially capable of pursuing education in Britain.

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