Bad vibes on visas

April 21, 2000

Your editorial "UK must offer a better experience to foreign students" (THES, April 7) places the fault squarely on universities with one exception, which you choose to call "the visa muddle".

On a visit to Nigeria and Kenya I was led to believe that British High Commission officials had received no Foreign Office instructions on implementing the prime minister's June 1999 promise to ensure international students were treated fairly and visa applications processed rapidly.

In Nairobi in February, there was a large student demonstration outside the High Commission against officials' attitude and delay in processing student visa applicants. My discussions with officials confirmed that there was a general initial assumption that all applicants had either forged their financial statements and/or intended to stay illegally after graduation.

Surely the rule that one is innocent until proved guilty should be applied. The students contrasted the positive and encouraging attitude of Canadian, Australian and even United States officials.

Is the High Commission officials' attitude another example of "institutionalised racism" in government?

Ian Grigg-Spall, Director of admissions and studies, Kent Law School, Canterbury

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