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State students seeking visa enjoy high approval rating with U.K.

Rasheed Kappan

81 per cent of student visa applications cleared by British High Commission



IN SEARCH OF BETTER FUTURE: Students at the Education UK fair, which opened in Bangalore on Thursday. — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

BANGALORE: In sharp contrast to the all-India rejection rate of 40 per cent for Education Visa applications to the United Kingdom, the British High Commission approved 81 per cent of the applications it received from Karnataka students. The approvals were for courses that commenced in September 2006.

Triggered by the State's high approval rating, student admissions from South India to U.K.-based higher education institutions grew by 22 per cent. Last year, 6,164 students from Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh enrolled for courses in the U.K., L. Dhanasekaran, Head, Education UK (South India), told The Hindu . He was at the U.K. education fair here on Thursday.

Forged academic certificates and fraudulent bank statements from students were key factors behind the 40 per cent rejection rate for visa applications. Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Dhanasekaran said, had an even high rejection rate of 50 per cent. Across India, 23,000 visas were issued last year. Once in the U.K., students could extend their visa by one more year to work anywhere in that country after studies. In Scotland, they could extend it for two years under the Fresh Talent Initiative launched in 2005. Open to all diploma, undergraduate, postgraduate and Ph. D. students in Scotland, the initiative benefited 4,000 international students, including 1,200 Indians in the last two years. Visa procedure simplified

Securing a visa could be a taxing affair for a student unaware of the process. But the British Council now has a Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) to help students with Unconditional Offer Letters from the University of his or her choice. "Any student from Karnataka only need to apply to the VFS, and the process will start," said the Education UK official. The student would to enclose the Unconditional Offer Letter, proof of residence, proof of funding (self-financed or scholarships) and proof of proficiency in English. The VFS will forward the documents to the British High Commission. The visas were eventually issued on paper by the Entry Clearance Officers at the Commission. If all the documents were in order, the process would be completed in 10 days and the passport returned with the visa stamped.

To simplify the process and educate students on the visa procedures, the British Council regularly organised visits by visa officers and visa seminars at its library in Bangalore from July to September.

Higher education aspirants thronged the two-day Education UK Fair that commenced at the Taj Residency in Bangalore on Thursday.

Students had opportunities to meet representatives from more than 60 UK-based institutions and attend seminars on visas, admission procedures and academic requirements.

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