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Student applications from Pakistan in UK drop

LONDON: There has been a significant drop in the number of genuine applications for studying in the

By Murtaza Ali Shah
January 10, 2013
LONDON: There has been a significant drop in the number of genuine applications for studying in the UK universities from Pakistani students since the introduction of harsh immigration policies and vilification of immigrants under the new Conservative-LibDem coalition government.
Chief Executive of Universities UK, Nicola Dandridge, said that universities are reporting a significant drop in the number of students applying from overseas, particularly from India, Pakistan, China and Saudi Arabia but Pakistani students are not only discouraged by the UK’s immigration crackdown but they also face disproportionate treatment from the immigration officers who process their applications in Dubai and during face-to-face interviews conducted in Pakistan.
She said that crackdown on bogus foreign students have driven large numbers of genuine overseas applicants to competitor countries, damaging not only universities but also the UK economy.
She said the senior ministers calling for a crackdown on “bogus students” had given the impression that overseas students were no longer welcome and was driving them towards competitor countries such as the US, Canada and Australia.
Home Secretary Theresa May last month announced the introduction of face-to-face interviews for 100,000 applicants for student visas a year.
This means that most Pakistani applicants will have to face interviews in British High Commission in Islamabad. After 9/11 attacks on the United States by al-Qaeda, the number of students from Islamic countries, particularly Pakistanis, shot up as American officials started picking on Pakistani students and Britain was seen as a benign country but that is not the case anymore as Pakistani students, including visitor visa applicants, are also a suspect in the UK now and their applications are rejected on mass scale.
Overseas students are estimated to be worth GBP8bn a year to the British economy, a figure projected to rise to GBP16.8bn by 2025, according to a study by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The Office for National Statistics’ figures released in November showed a 26% fall in the number of visas issued for the purposes of study in the year to September 2012 but Dandridge said “anecdotal evidence suggested the downward trend was set to accelerate.”
Pakistan was amongst the top ten nationalities issued entry clearance visas for the purpose of study in 2011. Of the total 261,405 student visas issued, 35,660 students visas were issued to Pakistani applicants. In 2010, the number of Pakistani students issued visas was 26,490.
But Pakistan is not included in the top ten nationalities for the year 2011 when a total of 61, 381 student visitors were issued with a visa for a maximum six-month duration. Nearly 70,000 people were issued student visitor visas in 2012 but Pakistan was not added in the top ten countries.
A home office spokesperson refused to share the reasons why Pakistanis were not amongst the top ten countries’ category but referred to a statement by Mark Harper, the immigration minister. It says: “The UK’s education system is one of the best in the world but to maintain this reputation it is vital that we tackle the abuse of the student route, while making sure Britain remains open for business.”