LONDON:28 July: The British Home Office (BHO) has said 48 percent of Pakistani students who came to the United Kingdom in 2011 were not ‘genuine’.
According to the credibility pilot analysis of qualitative and quantitative data 2012, the BHO conducted thousands of interviews with applicants from around the world. Applicants were tested on their ability to speak and write English, quizzed on whether they actually intended to study and not work, and asked if they intended to return home afterwards. The results showed nearly half of all applicants from Pakistan should have been refused.
The BHO survey data shows that three in five applicants (61 percent) to privately funded FE/HE colleges interviewed under the pilot analysis could potentially have been refused on credibility grounds, compared with around one in seven (14 percent) of applicants to universities, rising to over 30 percent in certain posts.
The rate of potential refusals on credibility grounds was more than three times higher amongst applicants to privately funded Further Education and Higher Education colleges (58 percent) than applicants to universities (16 percent). The largest number of additional potential refusals arose from applications for business administration and management courses (310 of 800 potential additional refusals). During the pilot, rates of potential refusals on credibility grounds were high for diplomas (56 percent), business/administration courses (48 percent) and banking/finance related courses (42 percent) – particularly those offered by private colleges. According to the survey, face-to-face interviewing was found to be the most effective way of assessing potential credibility, but more than one quarter (26 percent) of applicants were interviewed over the telephone as part of the pilot. The data shows that there was a higher potential refusal rate when applicants were interviewed face-to-face, as opposed to over the telephone. Telephone interviews appear to be less effective in judging credibility and entry clearance officers (ECOs) had concerns about the credibility of 21 percent fewer telephone interviewees than face-to-face interviewees. Data suggests that ECOs found it more difficult to judge potential credibility over the telephone and were therefore less likely to issue a potential refusal on credibility grounds in those situations. There were problems confirming the identity of telephone interviewees and also concerns in some cases that the interviewee was receiving assistance from a third party when responding to ECO questions.
Talking to Daily Times, British High Commission (BHC) Strategic Communication Islamabad Head Helen Chorlton said, “In 2010/11, we received over 41,000 student applications and whilst the majority were genuine students planning to study at approved and reputable institutions, many were not. In 2011, the UK implemented stricter controls to help protect students from less reputable institutions, and in 2011 we refused over 30 percent of student visa applications due to the high level of fraud and deception practised in this category.”
The official also said, “However, we still issued student visas to approximately 32,000 Pakistanis in 2011 (calendar year). This affirms our commitment to attract the brightest and best to study in the UK, but at the same time we want to ensure that everyone who comes to the UK is a genuine student coming to study at an approved, reputable institution.Dawn.