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Overseas students delayed by new visa rules say Universities | Immigration Matters

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Universities could lose thousands of high fee-paying overseas students because of new visa system, the Guardian reports.

Thousands of university places could be left unfilled and institutions millions of pounds out of pocket, because high fee-paying international students are being blocked from starting degrees under a new visa system, vice-chancellors warned yesterday.

Universities fear wealthy foreigners, who can pay more than £20,000 a year for degree courses, according to data compiled for the Guardian, will be put off studying in Britain by massive delays in processing visa applications, prompting a funding crisis. In Pakistan alone, a backlog of 14,000 applications has caused havoc for students who had been due to start courses this term.

Universities UK (UUK), the vice-chancellors’ umbrella body, said it was likely that within weeks it would be too late for students to start their courses, and institutions would have to ask them to defer for a year.

Some universities have started filming lectures so students unable to get into the UK can catch up by watching them online if they finally get here. Others have suggested providing reading materials so they can start at home. But it is thought that many will close their doors to delayed entrants around the start of November.

Such a move would cause huge administrative headaches, not just for disappointed students but also for institutions who will then have unexpected spare places this year, but will have to take deferred students next year, putting pressure on 2010 admissions.

Income from foreign students is crucial to UK universities because they face a cap on the number of British and European students they can take. Home and EU students pay tuition fees of up to £3,225 a year but the cost of educating them is much more and is supplemented in part by the government, which therefore limits places for them.

Professor Steve Smith, the president of UUK, which is in talks with the UK Borders Agency to try to speed up the visa process, said: “We are very concerned that significant numbers of students from Pakistan may not receive their visas in time to start their studies in the UK this year.

“Universities UK has consistently emphasised to UKBA that international students only have a limited timeframe within which to apply for a visa and any delays are very serious.

“We know many universities are trying to accommodate late arrivals but there will be cut-off points after which students will not be able to join their programmes. This is obviously devastating for the students and problematic for institutions who have planned for certain student numbers.

“It is of huge academic, cultural and financial benefit to the UK for these highly-talented people to come to our country to be educated. We are in danger of sending out a message that the UK does not welcome international students.”

Overseas students contribute £4bn a year in fees, according to the UK Council for International Student Affairs (Ukcisa). The Higher Education Statistics Agency says more than 8% of the total income of UK universities comes from international students’ fees.

Data gathered for the Guardian by Mike Reddin, a former academic at the London School of Economics, shows that students from outside the European Union starting undergraduate degrees in the sciences at Imperial College London this autumn will pay up to £20,400 each year in fees.

International students on a undergraduate science course will pay an average of £10,781 each year, a 3.7% increase on last year’s fees. For arts courses, the figure is £9,911 – up 4.2%. Dominic Scott, Ukcisa’s chief executive, said the figures showed just how important international student fees were to the UK.

“Without it, universities would have more departments closing, worse infrastructure and less investment in libraries,” he said. “At a time of huge financial pressure, it is the international student income which is enabling universities to invest, expand and survive.”

At the London School of Economics, where a large proportion of undergraduates come from outside the UK and EU, Simeon Underwood, head of admissions policy said significant numbers of students were arriving later than usual, and some had not come at all.

“The sector’s main worry is the damage this will do to the reputation of UK higher education overseas, especially in the Indian sub-continent, and the knock-on effect this will have on university funding,” he said.

Source: The Guardian

Immigration Matters Comment

The Government introduced the Tier 4 visa system for students in April as part of the points based system.

Based on comments from UK colleges Tier 4 seems to be working well and visas are coming out faster than under the old paper based student visa system.

There should also be less refusals as much of the subjective decision making powers have been taken away from Entry Clearance Officers.

However, delays have been reported in countries where a locally based visa section has moved to a regional hub. For instance, visas to the UK applied for in Pakistan are now processed in Abu Dhabi.  

In thoery the ‘hub and spoke’ operation should streamline the system and lead to more consistent and faster decisions.

I will be interviewed by Press TV on the subject of delayed student visas on 14 October at 5.30pm.

Related articles:

British Embassy Manila becomes regional hub for Visa processing

UK Border Agency advice on Tier 4 Student Visas

If you need any immigration advice or help with Studying in the UK, Settlement, Citizenship, Sponsorship, extending Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email:

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27 Responses to “Overseas students delayed by new visa rules say Universities”
Read them below or add one

  1. Dear Sir Charles,
    I got my tier4 visa within 4 days…. thanks god! Sir is it possible that i will come late to U.K because of personal reason?… The starting date of my class is on Jan 11,2010 and i will be coming Jan. 17.2010, is it possible?
    need ur reply.
    thanks and more power to u!

  2. MUZAMIL HUSSAIN says :

    plz adv me to subimt my application form for student visa

  3. […] Overseas students delayed by new visa rules say Universities […]

  4. […] Overseas students delayed by new visa rules say Universities […]

  5. […] Overseas students delayed by new visa rules say Universities […]

  6. […] The Guardian recently reported that Universities are complaining that they could lose thousands of high fee-paying overseas students because of delays and problems in the new visa system. […]

  7. Is there any chance for me to come to london if there is somebody willing to sponsor me to have a working visa? I’ve been there to London 4 years ago and met someone who is willing to help me to come back there as their housekeeper.

  8. Dear Charles,

    I applied for a student visa Tier 4. I was refused because what UK embassy said ” you have not submitted proof of funds, such as bank statement”. Ironically, i not only had submitted my personal bank statement with enough funds but also i paid 50% of my tuition fees in advance.

    Should i go for an appeal (Administrative Review)?

  9. You can find the requirements on the UK Border Agency website.

    See also: UK Border Agency advice on Tier 4 Student Visas

  10. Joana Crisma Guevarra says :

    Dear Sir:

    I am a registered nurse in the Philippines. I would like to apply for a student visa. Please advise me on the requirements of the said visa. Thank you.

    Joana Crisma Guevarra

  11. Joana Crisma Guevarra says :

    Dear Sir:

    I am a registered nurse in the Philippines and I would like to apply for a student visa. Please guide me on the proper procedure. thank you very much and await for your response.

    Joana Crisma Guevarra

  12. hay, Mr Charles
    i apply my visa in abu dhabi tier 4 last Oct. 13 until now i did not get reply it almost 5 day now. and my class started on Nov. 04 iam so worried what is the best think iam going to do thank

  13. Oli Salinas says :

    I applied for an extemsion on my visa in March of this year to pursue a postgrad diploma with a registered tier 4 college in London. I had already made a depost of more that two thirds of the full tuition and showed a balance of £2700 in my account. My biometrics were taken on April 19th and I was told 4 to 14 weeks for a response. I contacted the UKBA 15 weeks later to be told that they have no information for me as it has not been 14 weeks. Their records show that my boimetrics were done on May 19th.
    My situation then changed where the college I was attending when I applied for the extension was no longer offering the postgrad I had signed up for. I found another college that was tier 4 registered and was accepted on their MBA programme which was costing £2000 more than my previous course.
    One week later I get another letter form the UKBA requesting further documents.I submitted the acceptance letter from the college,my bank statements showing a new balance of £100 because the funds were used to pay the new fees, my mothers bank statements(from my home country)showing a balance of £7200 equivalent in my currency and a letter of sponsorship from my mother. Then at the end of September the UKBA responded with a refusal letter based on 2 reasons; 1. the Secretary of State BELIEVES that i have been working unauthorised hours and 2. The Secretary of State BELIEVES that I will not be able to afford my course and accomodation with out working unauthorised hours or seeking public funds.
    I am appealing the decision as I found it unjustified since I provided all requested documents without hesitation clearly showing and explaining everything. I have not to this day worked unauthorised hours and have have shown my finances. Yet still I was refused because the UKBA believes something. The legal fees are in excess of £2500 which my mother is paying for. I wonder if I have to show proof for that as well.

  14. If a UK college accepts payment for a place on a course then it should be honoured. If an agent in the Philippines is taking upfront payment/money from you for visa ‘processing’ for a course that is not available, then you need to ask why they (the agents in the Philippines) are doing this, not the college.
    How can processing take place if no place is available or no visa letter has been issued?
    Colleges and immigration advisers in the UK are strictly regulated and should not take money for course unless they have the place available. I cannot speak for the actions of agents in every country who may or may not be regulated by their government.

  15. You should speak to your local embassy or adviser about which local banks would be acceptable. Any legally registered bank should be fine, but check with the British Embassy.

  16. plz tell me my status my 2nd hearing time is 22/9/2009 uk call center officer says ur decision have been save and send u in 2 weak but 3 weaks ago no response give me why

  17. Sir Charles,

    May I ask if my showmoney will be deposited in the Rural Bank in our Community, would it be acceptable ? Please answer me…. Thank you very much….

  18. liza espiritu says :

    I submitted my application by my self and I am 100% sure about my facts because I have the original refusal notice. What will I do? Can I ask for motion to review by the Entry Clearance Manager. And last thing they refused my application last July 15,2009 (the exact date stamped on my passport) and they were only able to release the refusal notice last October 07, 2009. It took them almost 3 mos. to release where in fact they have made the decision since July 15, 2009.

  19. Imelda R. Rebellon says :

    I have been told that colleges in UK have more applicants for courses than the colleges have places. So this means applicants who have paid partial payments for administration work done by companies here in the Philippines who specialize in helping students to obtain a course in UK are being forced to wait indefinately for a visa letter. This is causing a great deal of worry and stress to almost every applicant because the majority have borrowed money to help them get a course placement in UK and in most cases they are paying extremely high interest rates they can ill afford.
    Why cant all colleges be honest with their agents here and tell them not to accept any further applications until they have enough places to accommodate us? What is happening here with this problem could soon lead to legal implications, like taking money under false pretences because both you and the agents know the placements are just not available for who knows how long.
    I look forward with keen interest to you answers.
    I.S.

  20. i would like to know if i am qualified to sponsor my husband as dependent to me.i arrived in Uk last February 20,2009 and i started to work and study after 1 week.may i know what are the needed requirements for my husband in going here?

  21. But I will not lose hope I trust in God and I believe I will do it somewhere else if not the UK.

  22. And you know how long it takes to get the references, filling out the online application, submitting the originals – all this process takes more than 3 months and you are mentally lost in this exercise. I had dreams to have this postgraduate certificate and had thought of better future….but you know things have changed for ever not for the betterment but for te worst to come….

  23. I am quite depressed with the new visa regulations placed by UKBA. I had an offer from the top 20 university for a postgraduate course in biomedical technology. I submitted my application under tier 4, but got refusal for not enough funds although i had shown the amout required for the whole year tuition fee, by the way I have made a partial payment as well, accomodation fee partly paid. I have shown in my own a/c the rest of the funds for maintenance, tuition fee etc. I am really depressed and just cant believe the reason is valid. It is something else and I have studied earlier in uk for 1 year and it seems wierd to me. I just dont trust this new point based system. I got 30 points for my visa letter however, they failed me in 10 points for not having enough funds, they did not even called me to check if I can bring more funds. I call the concerned Ministry, the Home Office to look into genuine cases of refusal as mine and consider granting visa next year. I even submitted the second time with more funds but again they refused. I am lost.

  24. […] Overseas students delayed by new visa rules say Universities […]

  25. You should be telling this to the embassy. If there has been an error or mix up in the names I’m sure this will be rectified. Who submitted your application, you or an agent? Are you 100% sure about your facts?

  26. I want t study their..
    How can i process it easily.

  27. I applied for a student visa PBS Tier 4 last June 05 2009.
    and I received the decision ( refusal of entry ) last Oct 07, 2009. I was refused on the grounds that my visa letter that I have submitted from THAMES INTERNATIONAL is not a registered and approved sponsor. I was shocked and confused where they got Thames International where in fact I never submitted any Visa Letter from Thames International because I am enrolled and my valid Visa Letter came from IMPACT INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE.Another thing is the date of birth written on my refusal letter is not my correct date of birth.
    I believe that every application should be treated well because I have waited for 4 mos. only to get a refusal notice that is not meant for me.

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