International students trusted this country – is this how they are repaid?


Pic: Anurag Tagat

Anurag Tagat will graduate from Goldsmiths, University of London at the end of September.

I was not surprised when recent statistics showed student visa applications for the UK have dropped by 21 per cent compared to the previous year.  Since bogus educational institutes were uncovered in 2009, UKBA  has made student visa norms for international applicants much tougher. They have made it near-impossible for us to get jobs, but now they are making it just as discouraging for overseas students to study here and to imbibe the great educational and social culture of the cities and towns of the UK.

It was clear in 2009 just how desperate (and yet determined) Indians are to gain an international education. Countless reports in the Indian press on bogus colleges in countries such as the UK, Australia and even within India, indicate just how much importance higher education is given and how seriously the decision to study abroad is taken, but the recent actions taken against London Met University is bound to create doubts in their mind.

We seem to have a system where the institution and the student have agreed to terms of study, but the UKBA can create complications over things as minor as their proficiency in the English language (UK Border Agency staff claimed 20 out of 50 London Met University’s overseas students interviewed had limited English).

A ‘highly trusted sponsor’ institute such as the London Met University speaks for itself on paper. It is shocking to see that students , who trusted what the British Government said about the institution, are being asked to leave for no fault of their own. Worst hit are existing international students, who will not be allowed to carry on studying at the university, regardless of whether they had one term or two years left on their course.

I will be keenly following updates from the University and UKBA. Important dates include today September 3, when the London Met University plans to email all its international students about the matter, and October 1, from whereon UKBA intends to contact international students and inform and advise them about a plan of action. They will be providing students a timeframe of 60 days to arrange their continued education at another institution willing to sponsor their visa or departure back to their respective country.

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