Some business owners have said that problems have led to students cancelling their travel plans to the UK.
Although it has not affected the vast majority of students, it is a concerning problem, according to Atlas managing director Mesud Yilmaz.
“There are cases where we had visa refusals ridiculously for almost no reason,” he said. “What [the visa officers] have written on the refusal letter makes no sense at all.”
Yilmaz said visas have been refused to students who themselves or whose families are business owners in Turkey, with visa officer saying they were not satisfied that students would be able to fund their studies or that they would return home after their studies.
“It’s not about the UK being more selective with visas, but it is about UK being inconsistent with visa decisions,” Yilmaz said.
“It is very difficult to explain to our students the reasons why they have been refused”
“We can almost predict which student might be eligible to get a visa for [a] country or not. But what we are experiencing with the UK visa applications is like a random visa refusal for very high visa profiles.”
However, Yilmaz said the Association Of International Educational Counselors (UED) was in contact with the consulate, and that there was progress, although students have missed out this year.
Atlas tried reapplying for visas that were initially refused.
“Reapplying doesn’t work, we have tried that,” Yilmaz noted. Some students have chosen other destinations, but others cancelled their trips altogether.
“There is not enough time to prepare and apply for another destination to get visas. This is a last minute market, but other students, particularly long term students, are looking for other destinations,” he said.
Along with UED, the president of YEDAB Osman Yilmaz has written to the British Consulate General in Istanbul to find a solution.
In the letter, YEDAB’s president asked the consulate to evaluate its visa system following four weeks of surprising visa refusals.
“Serious numbers of visa applications of students, such as high school students, university students, newly graduated from reputable universities and young professionals such as lawyers, engineers, and even business people, have been refused,” he explained
“It is very difficult to explain to our students the reasons why they have been refused. If we cannot find solutions to these refusals, our members and the language courses in the UK are going to have serious reputation issues,” he added.
Zeynep Göle Benli, director of business at Karya International, said the agency was facing similar refusal problems.
“The refusals are generally [for] financial reasons, we have been dealing with this for almost a month,” she told The PIE News.
Some students are re-applying if their visa applications are rejected, she said, but it depends on the case.
“If the student does not have enough time (they may have schools starting soon), then they cancel. If one wants to cancel of course we try to convince them to either postpone or change destination,” she explained.
“We hope it will be over soon.”
Business development director at StudyZONE International, Fazil Mammadov, said that recruiters were seeing “surprising” visa rejections.
“Recruiters are feeling unhappy to recruit students to the UK”
“Our company has 22 years of experience in this field and so far you can highly predict who can get visa and who cannot get it,” he explained.
Many students have had surprising visas refusal– it is not just one case, he noted.
Rumours of visa difficulties create a negative impact on interest to study in the UK, he added.
“Recruiters are feeling unhappy to recruit students to the UK since after many months of work to decide the school, arrange housing and do so much work to apply for a visa, and as a result – rejected!
“No one wants to take such a case and earn nothing. So it creates a habit to promote other destinations.”
If visa applicants cannot obtain a visa, less than half of them are willing to switch to an alternative study destination, Mammadov indicated.
“They have already wasted their time, hope and some money on registration fees, visa fee, document translation fee etc,” he explained.
“[The high number of] surprising UK visa rejections is hurting our industry and also interest among students.”
According to Pelin Oguz Ersan, director and education coordinator at Mayla Abroad, the UK visa application refusal rate is the highest in history.
Visa acceptances over the past few months have been “totally unpredictable”.
“This unpredictability and high refusal rates affect both the agents’ and the language schools in UK negatively,” she noted.
“As agents, we have started to try to convert to students from the UK to other alternative countries for language learning.
“We are suspicious there is a hidden political agenda underneath, such as blocking Turkish citizens to come to the UK until the end of Ankara agreement, which is expected to be cancelled in October 2019, as a part of the Brexit process.”