Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

With 'Unresponsive' UKBA, Walking like an Egyptian May Involve Exit Doors

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

With 'Unresponsive' UKBA, Walking like an Egyptian May Involve Exit Doors

Article excerpt

The Egyptian government may shun the UK as a destination for postgraduate students on state scholarships because of frustrations over visas.

Officials have said that they find the UK Border Agency to be unresponsive and have difficulty arranging visas for doctoral students' dependants.

Speaking at The New Student Visa System - Impact, Enforcement and UK Competitiveness, a conference organised by the Westminster Higher Education Forum and held in London on 8 November, Nadia El Kholy, cultural counsellor at the Egyptian Embassy, said there were "enormous problems" with the UKBA.

The Egyptian government "is thinking of a very serious paradigm shift in terms of the policy relating to sending students" to the UK, she told delegates during a question-and-answer session.

The UKBA sometimes rejected applications with no explanation, she claimed, and was very difficult to contact with queries.

It was hard to obtain visas for the families of doctoral students (who were often married before they began their studies in the UK), and extending their student visas so that they could remain in the country to complete their vivas was often challenging, Professor El Kholy complained.

"For sentimental reasons I feel this is really a shame because we have a long history with UK universities. A lot of our very best academics graduated from here," she said.

However, sentiment will only go so far and Egypt has a variety of alternatives in the Middle East, she warned, including UK branch campuses in Qatar and Dubai. …

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