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Ghanaian students’ UK refusal rates highest in sub-Saharan Africa

Prospective students from Ghana applying for Tier 4 visas to study in the UK have seen a higher ratio of visa denials compared with other countries across sub-Saharan Africa, government statistics have revealed.

Between Q1 and Q3 2019, 84% of Tier 4 visas for Ghanaians were granted, compared to 92% for Nigerians. Photo: wikimedia

Mauritius, Kenya and South Africa all had higher ratios of acceptance

Between Q1 and Q3 2019, 84% of Tier 4 visas for Ghanaians were granted, compared to 92% for Nigerian applicants. And for the remaining countries with the most applications, figures were considerably higher than Ghana.

“Students from Ghana should be worried”

Mauritius (99.5%), Kenya (97%) and South Africa (95%) all had higher ratios of acceptance rates for Tier 4 visas, statistics showed.

Of the total 1,646 Tier 4 visa applications from Ghanaians, 262 (almost 16%) were denied.

By comparison, 36 of 1,034 applications from Kenya, 29 of South Africa’s 626 and just two of 384 from Mauritius were refused.

The figures do not include visa applications that were withdrawn or lapsed.

“I cannot say with certainty why the Tier 4 acceptance rate is lower for students from Ghana compared with other African students,” international education consultant and author Marguerite Dennis said.

“It is a problem for recruiters, agents and educational consultants; students from Ghana should be worried,” she continued, adding that the students have other options, including studying in China and Russia.

Daniel Asare of iStudyPlus Educational Consult in Ghana’s capital Accra said that the visa denial rate comes down to funds.

“It’s all about the funding aspect of Ghanaian students,” he told The PIE News, but many students are not taking advantage of the services that agents offer.

“The reason why most students get their visa denied is that they don’t go through agents. Most students do it on their own.”

This differs from other countries such as Nigeria where students are “guided well”.

Asare noted, however, that some students can also stumble during their credibility tests.

For those students that are refused visas, they do so because of failing their credibility tests, or not meeting the bank statement requirements, he explained.

“Sometimes [students in Ghana] are naïve about the specific requirements,” he said, adding, “I don’t even remember the last time I had a rejection [for a Ghanaian student].”

Marie-Stella Hood of education consultancy UKEAS’s Ghana office made a similar point.

“We don’t see it as a problem when recruiting students because they are confident that their applications would be successful if applying through an agent or representative who can guide them through the right process,” she said.

“Generally, students do not worry because they are guided by agents or representatives like us.”

Despite the higher rejection rates, both the representatives of education agencies in Ghana said that students from the country do not give up if their visa application is rejected on the first attempt.

“Most students will generally try again before giving up and perhaps even trying other study destinations,” Hood told The PIE.

For those students that had their application denied the first time around, they repay the visa fee again. Visa officers explain why the visa has not been granted, and Ghanaian students will go back and correct those issues, Asare explained.

“They don’t give up on their dream of coming to the UK to study,” he said.

But according to Tosin Adebisi, senior international officer (Africa & The Middle East) at the University of Sussex, there are other reasons for the refusal rate.

“They don’t give up on their dream of coming to the UK to study”

Higher rejection rates for those applying by themselves is accurate to an extent, he said, but it’s not the entire picture.

For example, issues with the administrative side of the visa application process persist, Adebisi explained.

“Students from west Africa often apply late, or could be delayed in putting in their applications, and then the turn around times usually are very late.

“People get rejected for that. Students don’t always have their full documents as per what the Home Office may ask for,” he noted.

Echoing Asare’s comments,  Adebisi said the big issue with students from Ghana is funding.

“Students struggle more with regards to self-funding – a lot of students get a higher rate of rejection based on funding,” he said.

Additionally, issues arising from sponsorship can make the process even more difficult.

While the Ghana Education Trust Fund is the primary sponsor for outbound Ghanaian students, there are others that are not immediately recognised by the UK Home Office.

“The challenge is that the Home Office… sees a letter from a student that says they’re funded, they don’t believe it.

“The Home Office… sees a letter from a student that says they’re funded, they don’t believe it”

“This could be local government sponsorship usually, and smaller agencies or companies,” Adebisi said.

“In the past, the Home Office has contacted us… to ask if we can verify the student sponsorship status. I responded with, ‘we should be asking you’. And they end up rejecting the student.

“When it’s peak time the backlog becomes so much that a lot of students – because they are leaving it too late – are not able to make their visa application successfully,” Adebisi added.

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