UK visa clampdown: dampener or deterrent?

February 11, 2010

The arms of a statue are seen near Britain's Houses of Parliament in central London February 2, 2010. REUTERS/Toby MelvilleAs the United Kingdom tightens the noose on student immigration procedures, public sentiment in many parts of India has been stoked up over the new policy.

Many students feel they are being targeted, dubbing these rules as political moves as Britain inches closer towards elections.

And that as a result of these moves, students are losing huge sums of money paid to colleges in UK.

But the British officials have made it abundantly clear the new student visa curbs are directed at weeding out only those who enter their territory not to study but work.

Others strongly endorse the new screening procedures.

For once and for all, they believe, smart Alecs from private agencies who con thousands of innocents from obscure towns will be dealt a death blow.

And that many a Sid (from the Bollywood film ‘Wake up Sid’) in India who dream of hopping around Trafalgar Square or Big Ben under the pretext of a student visa will have their hopes dashed.

Are such stringent student visa immigration rules going to be a deterrent to youngsters drawn to menial offshore jobs?

And for those who seek work at the cost of completing their education in a language which they aren’t qualified for in their own country? Let alone pursuing it in a foreign land.

For students in small towns in India, the ordeal of obtaining foreign education and jobs starts early.

Students are first bombarded with hoardings, newspapers and leaflets with – ‘Learn English in 2 months’ – courses and then ‘attractive and easy visa processing’ schemes by consultation agencies.

Offshore employment is so deeply entrenched in their minds, that even after having completed their education outside India, they conveniently refer to their job as ‘drivery’ and not ‘driving’.

And the fresh crisis facing them is the dearth of jobs assured by consultation agencies.

Instances of many young Indians running out of money are rapidly climbing in UK, suggests a BBC report .

But so are the staggering number of bogus colleges operating in UK , which attract the offshore students.

The remarkable step taken by the UK government is suspending colleges flouting the rules.

UK High Commissioner to India Richard Stagg believes the new curbs will ensure no malpractices continue in the system at either end.

But will this stop touts and agents approaching gullible parents who scrimp and save to get their kids a foreign education?

And how can the governments in both countries make sure that such incidents will not unnerve students in the future? At least, those who genuinely deserve to study and work abroad.


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It was a much needed and welcome move by the British Home Office. Being an Indian, I do not blame them in that act.

But they should also be intelligent and sensible to differentiate between genuine and bogus students. They should also crack down bogus colleges with effective investigation.

A student doing research in any field, requiring a British University assistance, being denied a visa would be unfortunate, not only for the student but for mankind.

Posted by arseshan | Report as abusive

I was myself, a victim of a bogus college setup in the heart of London. I also came across so many of such colleges in Asian dominated places such as Eastham, Hounslow etc.

Initially I was shocked to see the easiness in which they just print letters to get you a Visa or even an extension. They are instrumental in many immigrants seeking the HSMP (Highly skilled migrant program)visa, whose meaning is self explanatory , but end up doing jobs requiring minimum skill.

I had a hard time there. I hope no one else suffers the same, Hence i clearly welcome the move by the Home Office to temporarily stop the student visa application process, so they can crack down on these bogus colleges.

Posted by arseshan | Report as abusive

yes, i agree with the author, there is no point taking admissions in the bogus universities and wasting precious time, money and life. A degree that is only a piece of paper to be sold in the scrap market, its better to have none. Hopefully administration will crack down on such ‘institutions’. And seperate real from the fake ones.

Posted by AnubhavGupta | Report as abusive

I strongly believe this debate was long due. I am working as a surgeon in Leeds since last 8 years. When I first came to the UK, I came across atleast 80 doctors from private colleges back in India who had been granted visas to complete their Masters. And not to my surprise, they were rendered jobless after completion of their diplomas here. No private hospital or clinic was ready to take them in the UK, not just because they could not speak english but their diplomas stood invalid. they went back home to open private clinics. so this remedial action taken by the uk government is commendable.

Posted by DrMItali | Report as abusive