Some summer schools based in the UK have reported that visitor visas in some countries have been delayed so much that students have not been able to attend in 2022.
Groups from countries in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean, such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia and Turkey, were either “unable to come or severely delayed”, one provider has told The PIE News.
“Before 2022, we had not received a single visa delay or refusal and this summer we received over 60,” Buckswood Overseas Summer School director Neil McLoughlin said, speaking to The PIE News.
Buckswood’s young learners program was decimated by this, losing almost £40,000 in business, McLoughlin said.
“Even in the last week I have received five emails from embassies in Istanbul and here in the UK asking me to confirm if a person was registered on our course. All in all, we had 58 students affected, 39 were (just about) able to come later than originally planned and 19 were either flat out refused for very petty reasons or delayed to the point that they were unable to come,” he recounted.
In the wider ELT summer sphere, there have been further delays for many visa nationals. Membership director of English UK Huan Japes commented that reports have been coming in from the organisation’s members that visa refusals are on the increase.
“These visa refusals cite the fact that there is no need for the student to study English in the UK when there are local or online English study options available, and query why they would want to take a higher-cost option,” Japes explained to The PIE.
“This includes students intending to come to the UK for short courses over the summer, with particularly high rates of refusal for potential students from Turkey and the surrounding region,” he added.
The issues come as widespread visa processing delays hampered the international higher education sector, with the UK, Canada and Australia seeing the most disruption.
“We feel the stipulations are an unfair restriction on our members’ ability to attract business”
Talking to The PIE, Bayswater Education said it did not have such a problem with delays in visa issuance, but instead that “refusal to choose the UK due to needing passports from EU countries was a much bigger factor in limited numbers”, a problem which has endured since Brexit rules stipulated EU ID cards were not sufficient to enter the UK.
Summer may now be over for another year, but Japes said that some schools will worry about the implications of the difficulties that have occurred over 2022 – especially with Brexit rules continuing to threaten interest in the summer school and young learner sphere.
“We feel the above stipulations are an unfair restriction on our members’ ability to attract business in the crucial post-pandemic period and are continuing to raise this issue with UKVI at every opportunity.
“We are particularly concerned as agents have commented on these delays and some have suggested that as a result they will consider sending students to competitor destinations such as the US,” Japes added.