The United Kingdom has recently announced that it would be increasing the number of personal interviews in lieu of paper checks after a study indicated that abuse had become rampant in the student visa system, most notably in Pakistan.
According to British Business Secretary Vince Cable, “The philosophy is clear. Overseas students are welcome to the UK but we would like to wipe out the abuse of the system.”
This decision was reached one day after Home Secretary Theresa May had reported to the House of Commons that she had issued instructions to the border agency to undertake pilot studies where student visa application from high risk countries would be interviewed instead of just relying on paper based reviews and checks.
May said, “Starting first in Pakistan and moving to other countries, more than 2,300 prospective students were interviewed. The lesson from the pilot (study) was clear – abuse was rife, paper based checks weren’t working and interviews, conducted by entry clearance officers with the freedom to use their judgment work.”
The new policy was announced by saying “from today, we will extend radically the border agency’s interviewing programme. Starting with the highest-risk countries and focusing on the route to Britain that is widely abused, student visas, we will increase the number of interviews to considerably more than 100,000, starting next financial year.”
She further added, “From there, we will extend the interviewing programme further across all routes to Britain, wherever the evidence takes us. I believe this new approach will help us to root out the abuse of British visas and improve the integrity of our immigration system.”
In another front, more than 500 Indian students would be definitely affected by the closure of three vocational colleges in Australia as reported to the Lok Sabha. An option available to the government is to take up the issue with the Australian Government at the proper level. The lead agency would be the High Commission of India in Australia, according to a formal reply from the Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Shashi Tharoor.
According to Minister Tharoor, the Australian government has announced that the Indian students affected with the closure of these colleges would be to fully utilize the government’s Tuition Protection Scheme (TPS). This scheme seeks to place the affected students in an alternative course or opt to refund the unspent pre-paid tuition fees to these students.
This is just another vestige of the declining number of Indian students that arrive in Australia in the past year. The total number has dropped by over seventy percent from 2008 numbers.