Earlier in 2019, The PIE reported that agency business directors said that some students were cancelling plans to travel to the UK due to inconsistencies in visa decisions made at British consulates in Turkey.
Representatives of companies assisting prospective Turkish students to apply to the UK said that problems are continuing, particularly for short-term study visas.
“Last year Turkey had the same [F1] problems with THE US”
“We concentrate on UK education both for short and long term Tier 4 visa programs… [and] so far the issue seems only to be on the short term visas,” managing director of Alternatif Education Counseling Services Serap Aslantatar told The PIE.
Reasons for visa refusals the consulate often state that the students are not bona fide, “as far as financial, academic or family ties are concerned”, Aslantatar added.
According to a Home Office spokesperson, the UK remains open to all genuine students.
“We welcome all genuine students which can be seen by the fact visa applications for university students are at a record high,” the spokesperson said.
“All visa applications are carefully considered based on their own merit and in line with the Immigration Rules.”
Alternatif is very selective in which students it works with… we refuse to accept enrolments from many students whom we think are not fit to get visa in the first place,” Aslantatar noted.
“When we get refusals despite our tight screening efforts we honestly try to understand and study the refusal reasons.”
However, in the majority of cases that have been refused visas, the company cannot find credible reasons that are “in line with Turkish culture, business environment, family relationships that may be different to western societies”, Aslantatar indicated.
“It is worth mentioning that Turkish parents, even other family members like grandparents or uncles, are prepared to support their family member’s education, no matter how old [the students] are.
“Those factors could sometimes be overlooked by some visa officers.”
According to the Home Office, more than 2,500 Tier 4 visas were issued to Turkish students in the year ending June 2019.
Tier 4 visas are the “safest ones”, according to Selçuk Atmaca from Academix, although surprising visa refusals is something new for the UK this year.
“Last year Turkey had the same student visa (F1) problems with the US,” he said.
“The UK always has been one of the most popular locationa for Turkish students”
“Sometimes we even read strange visa refusal and irrelevant excuses which make us very concerned that there is a confusion with someone else’s visa application,” he noted of the difficulties encountered with UK visa applications.
“We are doing our best to write every single detail on the visa application forms. Students are afraid as they dream that the UK is one of the best destinations to study, we do our best to keep their motivations alive.”
Academix encourages students to reapply for a visa in cases where they have previously been denied if the agency believes the profile is genuine, Cosar added.
“US, Canada, Australia are always options but the UK always has been one of the most popular locations for Turkish students who would like to study at high ranked universities and well-known language schools.”
“We are ready to adapt to new regulations or rules to make the situation better,” Cosar said.
The Home Office is also working with agencies to raise awareness and increase understanding of the immigration rules, and customer guidance so those who want to study in the UK on a Short Term Student visa show they meet all requirements.
Steve Phillips, chair of the English UK’s board of trustees, met the regional manager for UKVI’s MENACAPT region in Istanbul to discuss the issue of visas for Turkish students.
“We are aware of the high visa refusal rate and are working closely with the UKVI team to remedy this,” he said.
Aslantatar added that the UK remains one of the most attractive destinations for Turkish students.
“We are aware of the high visa refusal rate”
“For the short term visas, many students, who have been refused visas either did not want to go anywhere else or because they had only limited time to travel during the summer, have been deeply disappointed.
“The UK is a very important destination for Turkish students and… despite the fact that the cost of studying a language program in the UK is higher than many other destinations, it is still the most popular one,” Aslantatar added.
“Students who wish to study in the UK usually have no second option in mind. We do not plan to stop promoting the UK as a safe, quality and close destination.”