Students urged to be wary of dubious UK institutes
KARACHI, Aug 2: A British education officer on Wednesday raised alarm
over unscrupulous institutions in the United Kingdom out to make a fast buck at
the expense of foreign students.
Speaking at a briefing organised by the
British Council Karachi and the British Deputy High Commission, Andy Tinney,
Entry Clearance Manager at the deputy high commission, advised the applicants
from Pakistan to exercise great caution while choosing their British educational
The briefing was largely attended by students, parents and
Mr Tinney's caveat came as a surprise to many, as he himself
Last year, 11,000 Pakistani students travelled to the UK for
education, according to a press release issued at the event.
He said that
there are about 14,000 educational institutions listed with the UK's Department
for Education and Skills (DfES), out of which about 8,500 attract students. The
courses offered are also quite varied, he mentioned, saying that everything from
mainstream courses to bee-keeping are listed.
Mr Tinney said that the
officers handling the student's application will also scrutinise the choice of
college because of this proliferation of money-making institutions. He added
that applicants should not depend on the internet for information as this is
simply a marketing tool for institutes.
He said students would be better
off attending seminars that are periodically organised in Pakistan where they
can meet representatives of British educational institutions. Other ways were to
ring the college or university directly in the UK to get a better idea about the
quality of courses on offer, or to ask frequent visitors to the UK about the
veracity of the institute's claims (about location, etc).
He cited the
example of a London institute which claimed it had a sprawling campus on
expansive grounds, but the reality was that the operation was located in a
congested area of the British capital.
The representative of the British
deputy high commission also gave prospective student visa applicants various
tips to make the application process smoother. He urged the audience to avoid
agents lurking around the office of the courier company that delivers the visa
applications, and to work with accredited agents only.
He also emphasised
the need for presenting original documents and a home telephone number, as the
processing officers considered mobile numbers unreliable. He also recommended
that applicants provide IELTS or TOEFL scores because these tests gave
He also mentioned that there would be a thorough
check of the student's or sponsor's financial documents, especially if the
sponsor was not a blood relative (father, grandparent, etc), and that financial
records are cross-verified with the bank's central branch to reduce the chance
of collusion and misrepresentation at the local branch level. Dawn