2006-05-08 19:12:49 UTC
Daily Star, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Sunday, May 7, 2006
UK student visa turn elusive
By Faizul Khan Tanim
British High Commission in Dhaka are refusing student visas as
unscrupulous agents are processing the visa applications of students
possessing fake certificates.
The figures of the UK High Commission in Dhaka in 2005 show there were
6,944 student visa applications of which only 2,857 applications were
Although the number of UK student visa applications nearly tripled in
the last five years, the success rate of applications declined from 52
percent to 37.5 percent.
This huge refusal rate was mainly due to the submission of forged
documents by the visa applicants, their unreliable funding sources and
bank documents. Moreover, the embassies think most of them have
intention of not coming back after finishing study.
These figures were disclosed at a dialogue on "Migration to the UK from
Bangladesh: Opportu-nities and Constraints" at the British Council
auditorium on May 4.
The Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), Dhaka
University organised the dialogue under the 'Transnationalism and
Develop-ment' project in collaboration with the British Council and the
British High Commission.
Research fellows of RMMRU shared their research findings on labour and
student migration with the participants at the dialogue.
Research fellow Siobhán McPhee said the UK labour market currently
needs skilled nurse, plumbers, electricians, doctors, teachers, and
semi-skilled and low-skilled workers in the food and hospitality
But this information is almost inaccessible to the potential migrant
workers to UK due to lack of information from labour attaché in
Bangladesh High Commission in London and lack of vocational training in
Bangla-desh which is restricting potential migrants, said McPhee.
The research findings also stated that migration to the UK is now based
on points system arranged in five tiers. The new system is not
benefiting Bangla-desh or the UK as it restricts migration
opportunities. The system itself is a complicated process that
encourages fraud and other forms of irregular migration.
An improved migration system must be developed to fight irregularities
in the process since UK is the fourth largest source of remittance for
Bangladesh, the researchers said.
In her presentation on the student migration from Bangla-desh to UK,
research fellow Penelope Anthias said the access of information
regarding student visa to UK varies according to social class and for
applicants from Dhaka and outside the city.
Schools and colleges in Bangladesh provide insufficient information
about foreign education and most students are reluctant to approach
British Council, which is the most honest source of information, she
The researchers said private counselling agencies can play a useful
role in this regard but most of these agencies are engaged in
fraudulent practices. These agencies provide the applicants with forged
bank documents, offer letters, certificates and transcripts.
Besides, they charge high rates for processing UK student visa. They
sometimes pay bank managers to answer the phone inquiries from British
High Commission about any appli-cant. They help many unfit students to
apply for UK visa.
Only a few of these are genuine and the others are carrying out the
unscrupulous business in absence of a regulatory body, the researchers
They said the fraudulent agencies are being helped by some fake UK
colleges and other institutions, mainly located in East London with few
small rooms and inadequate facilities. They do not offer proper
The researchers added that out of 1,200 colleges inspected in UK in
2005, around 300 were found to be unfit to take foreign students and
many of these are affiliated with agencies in Bangladesh.
Almost all discussants agreed that there must be a monitoring body for
the agencies and the visa applicants should have greater access to
information about the UK educational institutions providing quality
Jonathan Verney, first secretary of immigration, British High
Commission, emphasised the need for a list of approved agents who can
help students in visa processing.
This dialogue was moderated and coordinated by Dr Tasneem Siddiqui,
professor of political science and coordinator, Transn-ationalism and
Development project, RMMRU.
Richard Sunderland, deputy director of exams, British Council, Nurul
Islam, director, research, monitoring and computer, Bureau of Manpower
Employment and Training, Ripa Walie, education promotion and marketing
manager of British Council, and KM Mazharul Islam, operation manager to
the Bangladesh liaison office of London Metropolitan University, among
others, spoke at the dialogue.