Just can't get the staff

May 2, 2013

Further to the article “Credibility of credibility interviews for foreign students called into question” (News, 18 April): border officers’ judgement is not the only cause for concern.

Since credibility interviews were piloted in 2012, my colleagues and I have spent months using Freedom of Information requests to try to get a picture from the Home Office and the UK Border Agency about the practicalities of the programme from a manpower, consistency and training perspective (reasonable questions to ask of an agency that, before being put out of its misery, was creaking under the strain of its workload, leading to lost passports, stranded students and separated families). Yet several applications relating to key information have been completely ignored.

One resource we do have is Interviewing Process for Tier 4 Student Visa Applicants, the government’s report on the pilot. Bizarrely for interviews designed to judge standards of English, those involving Americans and Canadians took longest (average 54 minutes), with Colombian interviews the shortest (13 minutes). Furthermore, in Pakistan it appears that the application process took up to five times longer in some cases during the pilot than under normal circumstances.

When the plan to interview at least 100,000 students a year was announced, there was no explanation of where the border authorities were going to find tens of thousands of additional skilled man hours, and there has been nothing in the months since. The stakes are high. More high-profile failures of our immigration system will further damage the UK’s international education brand and drive even more international students into the welcoming arms of our competitors.

James Pitman
Managing director
HE - UK and Europe
Study Group

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

David Parkins Christmas illustration (22 December 2016)

A Dickensian tale, set in today’s university

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard