Visa delays in key UK market see students miss out on January starts

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UK visa delays are leaving students in Pakistan out of pocket after they missed the beginning of the January intake at UK universities.

Some students are missing so much of the start of term they are having to defer.
In Pakistan, there is a perception that UKVI is intentionally delaying visas

Agencies confirmed that students, including those who had paid for priority visa processing, have had applications delayed by months.

Universities have in turn withdrawn CAS letters for the January intake.

Agents now say that students will lose out as both visa fees and priority visa service fees are non-refundable. In addition, students will be responsible for covering the expense of transferring tuition fees and any currency fluctuations, they say.

FES Consultants, which has 10 offices across Pakistan, said 50% of its January intake to multiple institutional partners had been affected by the delay.

“We have cases where students submitted their applications in the middle of December who are still awaiting their visa decision – and it’s almost the last week of February,” said managing director, Syed Shujaat Ali Shah, told The PIE.

Managing director of Times Consultant, Haris Dhanani, said that more than 250 of the agency’s students had been impacted by the delays. Across Pakistan, the total numbers are likely to be in the thousands, he added.

In 2021/22, UK universities hosted some 23,075 students from Pakistan, up from 12,975 the previous year, according to HESA statistics.

Estimates from some in the sector place the total number of students from Pakistan applying for this year’s January intake at around 10,000-12,000.

When a CAS is issued, universities usually allow two weeks after the beginning of the term for a student to arrive late – in some cases, they will extend it to three weeks.

However, students have been advised that extending the enrolment period any further would not be feasible, Dhanani added.

“[Universities] expressed concerns that new students would have difficulty catching up with the course if they were to enrol late,” he told The PIE.

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