Embassy intransigence

10th September 2004 at 01:00
Your report (FE Focus, August 13) on how colleges have responded to the Prime Minister's initiative makes for interesting reading.

In the light of apparent new changes in the issuing of visas to Chinese nationals, however, I find it difficult to accept the forecast in the British Council's Vision 2020 document that Chinese and Indian students will number some 637,500 by that year.

Currently, visa acceptances for Chinese students requiring a college place are down to 70 per cent. This appears to be the result of the British Embassy and Consulate offices switching to a paper visa examination process and, at the same time, adopting an intransigent approach.

In the course of a recent visit to China and a subsequent meeting with an entry clearance officer, we were left in no doubt that the intention is actually to debar valid students from access to the UK.

At least visas for summer-school students would be forthcoming, we thought.

Not the case, according to the official who claimed "they are all runners".

We have never lost a full-time or summer-school student and the overriding ambition of our students is to gain a place at a good university and return to China so that they may benefit from working in an economy that rather puts the economies of the West into the shade.

Visa officials appear ignorant of the FE sector and its potential, and the Association of Colleges and the Learning and Skills Council have a role in an overdue enlightenment.

Ioan Morgan

Principal, Warwickshire college

Leamington Spa

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