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Strict UK visa regime threatens Pakistani students

Strict UK visa regime threatens Pakistani, international students
London, April 03: In a complete overhaul of the student immigration system, Britain has introduced stringent rules to outlaw bogus colleges and only support accredited educational institutions.

The new measures, under the Tier 4, aimed at students from the non-EU countries, are bound to affect thousands of Pakistani students for whom Britain remains the most favoured country for higher education. Of the 1.6 million full-time undergraduates currently studying in the UK, around 99,000 are classified as international students.

Britain saw a sharp rise in number of Pakistani - and Muslim - student applicants after the 9/11 attacks on the US and the following crackdown on the Pakistani and Muslims students. According to the UK Home Office figures of August 2008, there were 36,200 students enrolled in the UK colleges and universities from the Indian subcontinent - 10,600 from Pakistan, 22,100 from India and 3,490 from Bangladesh.

The international students in Britain last year paid tuition fees worth £2.5 billion. The British government claims that the new student visa regime will make the visa process simpler, more objective and more transparent, while preventing abuse of the immigration system.

According to new rules, all the British schools and colleges taking in international students from outside the European region will need to be registered with the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Hundreds of colleges, many of them owned by the Pakistanis, have been shut down in the recent crackdowns.

There will be five visa types for students, including child student, child visitor, adult student, student visitor, and prospective student. Announcing the new Tier-4 rules, Home Office Minister Phil Woolas said fake colleges set up to help illegal foreign workers get into Britain were the biggest "loophole" in the immigration system.

"I believe that the new system will benefit major institutions, colleges and private universities, but the backstreet bogus college is being exposed." A greater responsibility rests with the colleges to ensure that students meet all the requirements before applying for the visa. This means students will have to attain 40 points: 30 points for showing an unconditional offer of a recognised study place; and 10 points for showing that a student has approximately £10,000 in his account for tuition fees and maintenance.

The new visa regime has met opposition from a leading supplier of international students in the UK. Study Group Managing Director James Pitman said that the new rules had put a burden on the institutions for these institutions were being treated as education providers as well as immigration administrators. "The institutions will now have to act as sponsors of students wishing to study in the UK and will have a requirement to report non-enrolment and prolonged absenteeism. We understand that the visa extension process will become more complex as well and such changes will certainly add to workload and administration costs. The time to fill in an application and go through it with a student will also increase significantly.

"When this is taken in the context of the new requirement for biometric visas, an increase in visa fees from £99 to £145, and the recent introduction of ID cards for international students, it is clear that the international education industry faces significant changes. This is a sector that is worth £13 billion to the UK economy and we need to make sure that (the) industry works closely with (the UK) government to ensure that these changes are implemented smoothly."

Seminars on UK visa rules for students
Islamabad: The Falcon Education & Consultancy Services (private) Limited (FECS) will hold seminars in various cities of the country with an aim to provide effective and updated information to the local students seeking admission in prestigious universities in the United Kingdom (UK).

The seminars addressing the recently launched new UK visa rules, known as Points Based System (PBS), will be held in four major cities - Karachi (April 7), Lahore (April 8), Islamabad (April 9) and Peshawar (April 10).

The seminars will help all Pakistani students in preparing their visa files and documentation without the help of immigration agents and education consultants, who often fleece the students by charging them with heavy fees for the preparation and submission of student visas.

The newly launched PBS replaces the old system and has been designed to facilitate genuine and bona fide students through simple and clear rules. The UK Boarder Agency encourages students not to use agents-consultants and follow the rules specified and available on the websites of UK Boarder Agency and the British High Commission.

The seminars will also look into ways and means of getting various kinds of scholarships available in the UK for those students who are stuck due to funding problems from the HEC.

The FECS provides services in various areas including the choice of prestigious universities, career counselling, swift admission services, fast track visa processing, pre-departure orientation, post arrival guidance, institutional collaboration and customised research.

FECS CEO Syed Abidi, in his message, said that studying abroad is a very important and expensive decision, and one wrong advice might lead the students to end up in a wrong course at a wrong university. "It's essential for students to choose their academic service provider with a proven track record," he said.

He said the FECS has been working with an aim to help and assist students in finding their goals through study opportunities around the globe and promote educational institutions through cost effective marketing plans.

Established in 1993, the FECS has, so far, placed more than 4,500 students throughout the world, not only from Pakistan but also from Bangladesh and Oman. It has a team of fully trained, professional and friendly staff at all its offices, ready to provide any information regarding the study opportunities abroad. "Our visa success rate throughout our operations has remained above 90 per cent, which clearly reflects the quality of our applications and our intention to only accept and process genuine students," Syed Abidi said.

"In order to achieve our aims, we operate a full-time education counselling service. Our primary goal is to ensure that students, who are planning to study abroad, are given professional advice and information on the various requirements and procedures in a systematic manner and processing their applications for admission," he said.

The students wishing to participate in the seminar should contact on the cell number 0300-8443272 or visit the website falconec@b rain.net.pk. Entry is free but only on prior appointment. The News

Kundi for more Pak-UK cooperation in edu sector
Islamabad: It is obligatory upon West, especially UK and USA to work for winning hearts and minds of people of Pakistan by giving them sufficient aid to promote their health and education.

These views were expressed by the Faisal Kareem Kundi, Deputy Speaker National Assembly on Thursday while speaking at conference on "Pak-UK Relations: Challenges and Opportunities".

The event was organised by the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) in collaboration with Deen International a British based non-profit, civil society organisation.

Faisal Kareem Kundi, Deputy Speaker National Assembly was chief guest while Abdul Rasheed JP, Lord Mayor of Birmingham UK and Chancellor Birmingham City University, UK, Dr. Khursheed Ahmad CBE, Member board of Governors, Aston university UK and Chairman 'Deen International', Dr Anwar Siddiqui, President IIUI were also spoke at the occasion.

A large number of students from various faculties of IIUI and other educational institutions were present at the occasion.

While speaking on the occasion Faisal Kareem Kundi, Deputy Speaker National Assembly said that more Pakistani students should be given admissions to UK and USA universities so that they may be able to bridge gap between Pakistan and West.

In his address Dr Anwar Siddiqui, President IIUI said that the university is working for creation of harmony among Pakistanis and the Western world by promoting culture of understanding and tolerance.

He further continued that the Islamic University is open for all and everyone is welcomed at its campuses. He quoted visits of Former British PM, Tony Blair, British Foreign secretary David Miliband, renowned scholar Karen Armstrong and others to the university.

While speaking on the occasion Lord Mayor of Birmingham and Abdul Rasheed condemned all sorts of terrorism and said that only by creating a culture of dialogue among civilizations we can make this planet a place to live.

APP adds: It is also a matter of pride that two percent Pakistanis live in Britian while the number of Pakistani doctors in Britian hospitals is seven percent.

Showing concern over the situation in FATA and NWFP, the Deputy Speaker stressed the need to provide quality higher education to the people of the areas for the promotion of peaceful environment.

Muhammad Muneer, Representative IIUI gave presentation on 'Suicide Attacks: Martyrdom Operation or Acts of Terrorism.' About suicide attacks , he elaborated that the killing of innocent children and women is prohibited in Islamic law. Similarly on the name of Jihad, destruction of civilian objects and property is also forbidden.

Dr. Khursheed Ahmad, Chairman Deen International UK highlighted the aspects of campaign "I am Britain; I am Muslim" initiated by the institute to further strengthen Pak-Britain relationship and highlight the achievements of Britain-based Pakistanis working in different fields.

The campaign also aimed at removing misconceptions between both the countries and enhancing people to people contact.

Dr. Khursheed also appreciated the efforts of IIUI in maintaining standard of education.

Chaudhry Abdul Rashid, Lord Mayor of Birmingham UK also called to strengthen bilateral ties between both the countries. President IIUI, Dr Anwaar Siddiqui also expressed his views on the occasion. The Nation


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Undergraduate convocation of MCS held
Rawalpindi: The 17th undergraduate convocation ceremony of the Military College of Signals (MCS) was held Thursday, says an ISPR press release.

Federal Minister for Defence Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar was chief guest on the occasion. Degrees in BSc Telecommunication Engineering and Computer Software Engineering were awarded to the officers of Corps of Signals, Technical Cadets and Cadets of NUST who successfully completed the course. A total of 110 students were conferred degrees.

President's gold medals were received by NUST cadet Syed Raza Mohsin and NUST cadet Sara Rehmat. Chief of Army Staff Gold Medals were clinched by Technical Cadet Nauman Rauf and Captain Azhar Javed. Rector's gold medals were awarded to NUST cadet Amna Saeed and NUST cadet Farwah Ahmed. The chief guest, Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar while addressing the convocation lauded the performance of NUST. He said that NUST is a premier institution of country in the field of science and technology and is serving the nation to utmost of its capabilities. He also appreciated the recent developments carried out in NUST.

Earlier, Military College of Signals Commandant Brigadier Waqar highlighted the brief history of the college and its achievements. He informed the distinguished guests about the multifarious tasks of MCS ranging from imparting multi level training in combat communication to producing talented engineers in the fields of Telecommunication and Software Engineering.

The commandant also highlighted the efforts made by the College in the fields of information security and communication technology. Special Assistant to Prime Minister Shahnaz Wazir Ali, who is Incharge of Higher Education Commission and Lieutenant General Muhammad Asghar, rector of National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), were also present on the occasion.

Islamabad College for Girls, F-6/2 student's distinction
Islamabad: Maira Khalid, a student of Islamabad College for Girls, F-6/2, obtained first position in class VII, says a press release. Maira Khalid is the daughter of Khalid Nazir, an electrical engineer at the Iesco.

Agri university takes over hydroponics plant
Rawalpindi: Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) has taken over the possession of Farmers Market (private) Limited, a hydroponics plant.

The university, which has its credibility and confidence among community for agriculture education, research and development of arid areas, was chosen by the international organisation to receive the asset on unconditional basis.

This is one of the unique facilities, which has got all cutting edge technology for production, packaging and marketing of green house crops, grown on solution culture only.

Hydroponics Plant carries on this business from its five acres green houses located in Rawalpindi, which has integrated facilities that include cold storage, packing and shipping facilities, offices and residences, over an area of 13.5125 acres situated at Kalyam Mughal, near GT Road, Rawalpindi.

The university has been mandated to produce high quality agricultural scientists and to form an organised scientific infrastructure for teaching and research, for the development of arid areas of the country.

The university will now be able to produce highly skilled manpower, trained on production of green house crops, which is a need of time.

The university will also provide a leadership role and advisory services for tunnel production and green house crops. The News

IIUI students visit SC
Islamabad: A group of female students of Faculty of Sharia and Law of International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) on Thursday visited Supreme Court (SC). According to a press statement, the SC staff received and welcomed the group that also included students belonging to Somalia, Afghanistan and Egypt. The students visited the SC building, courtrooms, ceremonial hall, auditorium and monument. They attended the court proceedings in the courtroom of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and later called on him. They also visited Judges' Library, where SC Registrar Dr Faqir Hussain delivered a lecture to them on court procedures, jurisdiction and composition of the SC.


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FJWU Women's Week kicks off
Rawalpindi: The Women Week celebrations kicked off at Fatima Jinnah Women University (FJWU) in a festive style on Thursday.

"Knowledge, Peace and Our World" is the theme of the week, aimed at engaging youths in co-curricular activities on the university campus.

FJWU Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Dr Saeeda Asadullah Khan inaugurated the week. US Embassy's Cultural Attaché Constance Colding Jones and Islamic International University Islamabad Director Anis Ahmad attended the function.

Qirat, Naat, bilingual declamation, quiz, photography, painting, drama, singing and documentary competitions and Mehfil-e-Mushaira will be main activities during the week.

Qirat and Na'at competition: On the first day, students from different universities of the country mesmerised the audience with their soulful voices during Qirat and Na'at competitions. Hafiz Muhammad Hameed Raza of University of The Punjab secured first position, while second position went to Qari Abdul Aziz from Gomal University Dara Ismail Khan and Hafiz Ubaidullah from Government College University Lahore secured third position.

In the Na'at competition Saad Zia of Government College University Lahore won the first prize while Ms Asma Imdad of University of The Punjab won second prize. Third prize went to Ms Shumaila Kanwal of University of Sargodha.

Quiz Competition: Another activity of the day was Mastermind Quiz Competition. Government College University Lahore won the title of the event, while University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Lahore stood the runner-up in this competition. Eight teams from different educational institutions of the country participated in the event.

Artisan Mela: The best part of the women week is the Artisan Mela, which was inaugurated by Dr Khan along with Jones. Dr Khan and Jones visited different stalls. Jones also got her hands decorated with Mehndi designs.

In the Artisan Mela, the craftswomen and students from all over the country have displayed handicrafts, woodwork, rugs, clothing, jewellery, accessories, interior décors and greetings cards. Most of these items are handmade. Some food stalls have been also set up.

Today's (Friday) activities include bilingual declamation; photography, painting and flower arrangement competitions and Mushaira. Daily Times

AIOU excels in spring flower show
Islamabad: Allama Iqbal Open University outshined in the annual spring flower show by securing top six positions in different competitions held at Fatima Jinnah Park here, said a spokesperson of AIOU here on Thursday.

The flower show was organised by the Capital Development Authority, in collaboration with Islamabad Horticultural Society and was participated by AIOU, Islamabad Club, Pakistan Air Force, KRL and Pak PWD.

The competition was held in flower decoration, growth and variety in which the university outshined by bagging top six positions in all the competitions.

"Securing top six positions in competitions of small organizations is no doubt due to efforts of Supervisor of Garden Department Mohammed Nazir," AIOU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Mehmood-ul Hassan Butt while receiving the trophies and prize of Rs2,000.

Teachers oppose ICU establishment on campus
Peshawar: The teachers of all the educational institutions on the premises of Peshawar University campus Thursday demanded of the government to withdraw the decision of establishment of Islamia College University within the jurisdiction of University of Peshawar so that the status of historic Islamia College and Islamia Collegiat School could be maintained.

A general body meeting of the teachers of all the Peshawar-based public sector universities-University of Peshawar, Islamia College University, NWFP Agricultural University, NWFP University of Engineering and Technology - and colleges and schools affiliated with them, was held here under the aegis of Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA).

The meeting, through a unanimous resolution, opposed the establishment of Islamia College University (ICU) close to University of Peshawar, the largest public sector general university in the province.

The participants of the meeting stressed that the decision of establishing ICU on the Islamia College premises should be taken back and the status of Islamia College and Islamia Collegiate School as affiliated bodies of the University of Peshawar should be maintained. They said that due to the ICU, the two historic institutions faced the most serious harm. The participants said the establishment of ICU was aimed at taking the assets of the Islamia College. The News


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