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Relaxation in UK rules for issuing student visas

Travel agents tempt students seeking UK visas
Lahore, Oct 25: Following the recent relaxation in the UK's rules for issuing student visas, "travel agents" have started advertising their services to attract students wishing to obtain visas, while a British High Commission (BHC) spokesman has said it is working closely with Pakistani officials to address migration/visa-related issues.

"Travel agents" throughout the city have displayed banners and posters at prominent places to attract students seeking visas. These agents, claiming 100 percent success rate, offer to help the students obtain all the documents required for a visa in exchange for an exorbitant commission. They claim the students do not need to sit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to obtain a visa and maintain that age is not an issue. Some agents even claim they would arrange every single required document for a fee of Rs 40,000 to 50,000, while others claim they have contacts in the British embassy that will guarantee a visa.

An agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the British government had recently relaxed its student visa policy and it was an ideal time to go to the UK. He said people were very eager for student visas and he received at least 30 to 40 inquiries on a daily basis. "The law and order situation in our country is not good, encouraging people to try and go abroad," he said, adding the inquiries had increased after the recent attacks. He said students applying for certificate and diploma courses needed to obtain 40 points. "If students secure admission in an A-class college, then they receive 30 points while 10 marks are given on personal data, including education and bank statement," he said. All the applicant had to do, he said, is provide a bank statement proving they had Rs 1.3 to 1.5 million in their account for 28 days. "We will arrange for a letter of acceptance from UK institutions after the applicant pays the visa fee and our charges," he said, adding they refunded all the money if the visa request were rejected.

To a question, the agent said certificate and diploma courses were exempt from the IELTS requirement, while it was a requirement for a graduation degree. He said many students were unable to score high marks on the IELTS, so it was recommended that they take admission in certificate or diploma courses.

Another agent said that anyone could get a student visa, even if they are over 30 and have not studied in some time. "We would arrange an employment certificate for him, which would cover his education gap," he added.

However, the BHC said it did not recognise any agent and was working closely with Pakistani officials to address migration/visa-related issues. A BHC spokesman said the IELTS was not a prerequisite for obtaining a visa, however some universities required it. He said a personal/joint bank statement with a substantial amount of savings was necessary. He said all applicants must provide original documents and evidence must be dated no more than one month before the date of application. He said if the applicant wanted to study a London-based course for 12 months or less, then they required fees + 800 for each month of the course; for 12 months or less in a course based outside, fees + 600/month of the course were required; a London-based course exceeding 12 months required the first year fees + 800/per month for the first 9 months; and an external course exceeding 12 months required the first year fees + 600/month for the first 9 months.

The BHC spokesman said the applicants also had to arrange a certificate to show they were free from infectious pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). He recommended applicants to visit websites prescribed by the British government and apply their cases there instead of hiring agents to help them. Daily times

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Language centres to improve communication skills
Lahore: Universities and colleges must set up language teaching centres for the improvement of students' communication skills in languages particularly in English and Urdu.

This was stated by Chairman Department of Chemistry, Government College University Prof Dr Saeed Iqbal. He said language barrier was not only the major learning handicap but also adamant to communication skill, which impeded the young graduates in competitions and job placement.

He said the graduates particularly in Science, IT and Commerce were seriously lacking communication skills, which was great impediment in their progress and job placement. They also fail to comprehend the real knowledge because of poor English.

Dr Saeed Iqbal said we should teach children in native language and after maturity teach them the languages so that they could get flair in spoken and written languages at least in Urdu and English. The burdening of tiny students with difficult English textbooks and learning foreign language from infancy drift the child in depression, he added. "They also face wrath of teachers and parents for not proper comprehension in English and hence lack of confidence", he further added. Moreover, the quality of English teaching in schools was also poor. Teachers too were neither qualified nor proficient in English. The example of Germany, France, Chinese, Japanese and Russian could be quoted to substantiate this truth where knowledge was imparted in native language. Because of foreign language as medium of instructions, our students resorted to rote learning instead of comprehension and thus were deprived of the real knowledge and its theme, he said.

He was of the view that this was perhaps the major reason why our students were deprived of the fruits of higher education and why there was no worthwhile research and why we could not produce Noble laureates who were one or two at our credit yet. He said our students were intelligent in a number of science subjects, some of them rich in research but they could not transform their skills and learning due to language barrier.

He said under a crash programme 3/4 months long language courses in Urdu and English should be introduced in Universities including writing and speaking skills. The separate courses should be at the doorstep of the students at Universities and postgraduate colleges. Not only Urdu and English, but courses in Hindi, the language of enemy and the Persian, Arabic and Chinese spoken in neighbouring countries of Iran, Afghanistan Middle East, China etc should be taught to our students so that they could benefit from the science and Arts of these countries and also communicate knowledge to them, he told.Effective coordination among govt depts stressed

Secretary provincial Home Department Nadeem Hassan Asif has said full support would be given to Punjab Ombudsman's children complaint office in order to ensure protection of children's rights.

He expressed these views while addressing senior government officials at a children complaint office's workshop here on Saturday. Punjab Social Welfare Secretary Tariq Feroze, Punjab Zakat Secretary Karim Baksh, DG Health Lahore Dr Fayyaz Ahmad Ranjha, SSP Imran and others also addressed the workshop.

Nadeem Hassan, while stressed the need for effective coordination and proper flow of information among government departments, welfare of begging children and reforms of jail system in the Punjab were among the top priorities of the government.

Punjab Ombudsman Secretary Javed Nisar Ahmad Khan said in order to make the children complaint office effective; a partnership between government departments, NGOs and media would be developed.

While addressing the workshop, UNICEF's children protection specialist Shamshad Qureshi, observed that in the absence of effective system, thousands of court cases of children were pending, and at present three million children were victim of child labour.

He advocated for simplifying investigation of children complaints, which would ensure protection of children's rights. He also observed that many children were in jails due to complexities in law. The nation

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PU VC chaired meeting of departments chairmen
Lahore: Punjab University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran chaired a meeting of chairmen of all departments to enhance security arrangements on the PU campuses.

The vice-chancellor briefed the chairmen about the meetings of vice-chancellors of universities of Lahore with the Punjab government and vice-chancellors of universities of Punjab province with the governor Punjab held recently.

He said 'we should get aware of teachers, students and employees that the terrorist activities in Pakistan are related to the third phase i.e. present period of Afghan war'.

He said the purpose of these activities was to damage the armed forces' strength and economy of the only atomic power of Muslim world Pakistan.

He said the future of Pakistan was not only bright but our country would also overcome these crises and get stronger soon.

Dr Mujahid Kamran directed the chairmen of all departments to make security plan of their respective departments and create awareness among teachers, students and employees in this regard. Moreover, they were also briefed about the security arrangements made by the university administration.

The chairmen supported the vice-chancellor's viewpoint and expressed their resolve to face the evil forces with united strength. The vice-chancellor also suggested the appointment of Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Jamil Anwar as head of all security issues of the varsity over which the house showed its consent.

CM's rep presents desert plant to VC: A representative of Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif presented a desert plant, which came as a gift from an Arab country, to Punjab University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran.

The Punjab University will conduct research on this plant. Chairperson Punjab University Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Prof Dr Shahida Hussnain and Resident Officer-II Malik Muhammad Zaheer were also present.

Schedule of postponed exams: Punjab University's Controller Examinations Dr Zahid Karim Khan has said that new schedule of all postponed examinations will be announced when PU will reopen.

Students to be asked to vacate hostels: A meeting of wardens and superintendents of all hostels was held under the chairmanship of Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran.

The vice-chancellor directed them to increase the security of the hostels. The wardens and superintendents were also directed to ask some remaining students in some hostels other than the students of foreign countries and NWFP to vacate the hostels. The news

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Updated: 14 Oct, 2014
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