On your guard, students! It’s just gotten a little harder to go to the UK to study!
In a move that’s set to polarise opinion on UK immigration even further, students travelling to the UK to study now have to demonstrate that their level of English proficiency measures up to the test certificate submitted - and this after they’ve passed approved language tests and applied for visas.
Though the ultimate stated objective is to root out ‘bogus students’ who seek to abuse the system, what has sparked off resentment is the vagueness surrounding the whole proposal, and the possibility that officers who are not trained language assessors might be deputed to judge students’ English levels.
Students from countries with greater risk of abuse and those who’ve applied to institutions which don’t figure on the UK Border Agency’s ‘highly trusted sponsor list’ are likely to be subjected to greater scrutiny. A more elaborate verification of the student’s education history, financial situation and study plans is on the agenda.
English proficiency has been a key component of the Tier 4 Visa process since 2009, coming even more into focus when the UK Border Agency (UKBA) raised the minimum standards a year later. However, experts in the field around the world feel that the current proposal will not be of much help in bringing down abuse of the system.
The director of research at World Education Services, a New York-based higher-education monitoring service, is of the opinion that interviews are highly subjective, and that the purpose would be better served if sources of fraud are nipped in the bud. A better approach, he suggests, would be to curb the obvious risks, such as agents who have an incentive to make a particular applicant look 'admissible', by hook or crook.
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