In a survey of more than 700 education agents worldwide conducted by Times Higher Education magazine, the UK has been rated “very good” at processing student visas, according to a thorough study of education agencies, even while visa-related bottlenecks continue to plague Australia and Canada.
The UK outperformed Australia, Canada, and the US on all other measures related to visa processing, including the ease of visa application, processing times, acceptance rate, explanation for rejection, and duration of stay granted, despite ranking last among them on visa costs.
The THE report quoted the study author and head of strategic insights and analytics and Navitas, Jon Chew, as saying that the survey results show “significant differences in perceptions of how well the major destination countries are coping with the high demand for student visas”.
53% of agents awarded the UK the highest grade for visa application ease i.e. “very good”, far higher than the next-best country, Australia, which received a rating of very good from 32%, compared to about 20% for Canada and the US.
“The UK appears to be a league apart from the rest on this measure,” writes Mr Chew. On the UK’s visa acceptance rate, he observes that there are “similarly strong positive views,” with 60% of respondents rating the UK as very good. About 20% of respondents in Canada and the US thought acceptance rates were excellent.
37% of analysts gave the UK the highest ranking for visa processing speed, compared to 24% for the US, 17% for Australia, and just 8% for Canada.
Higher education leaders have recently issued a warning that if Australia doesn’t resolve its visa backlog, it risks losing talent. A THE report has also recently revealed that some students may be forced to drop out of their studies despite waiting years to enter Australia.
Mr Chew, however, belives that Australia’s loss might be UK’s gain. He cautions that recent news stories may indicate that the UK’s impressive performance “may have been short-lived.”
He notes that shortly after the survey was conducted in May, the UK eliminated priority processing for a number of nations, and that amid an increase in applications from nations like Nigeria, “there also appears to be greater scrutiny of applications, particularly from so-called “high-risk” markets.”
Nevertheless, Mr Chew advises that nations should remain adaptable because the situation is constantly shifting. This is true regardless of how well they have performed thus far.
Mr. Chew sums up by stating all major study abroad destination nations will encounter greater challenges with regard to immigration procedures in the upcoming months as international travel picks back up. Destinations that can figure out a way to give student visas priority, specifically at crucial pre-commencement windows will be able to maximise the momentum of the rebound.
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