Enroly operates an admissions automation platform known as ‘CAS Shield’ for one-in-five British universities. The latest data, based on thousands of self-reported outcomes from students using the platform, compares visa statistics from a cross-section of UK higher education institutions which use the service.
The results show the average processing time, from visa application to visa issued, is currently 30 calendar days for the September 2022 intake, slightly longer than the target three weeks currently being communicated by UKVI.
The data also shows differences in average processing times between countries with Chinese students being processed fastest in an average of just 26.3 days while Nigerian visa applications being processed the slowest, in 33.3 days.
Despite Australia reopening its borders for international students and bouncing back with a successful first quarter enrolments, demand for the UK continues to soar year-on-year. UK visa numbers are up 370% on the Enroly platform versus the same point last year, with the stand-out growth markets being in India and Nigeria, up 886% and 788% respectively.
Speaking at the recent BUILA conference, Ollie Rae, deputy director of study operations at the Home Office, explained there had been double the number of visa applications in May and June 2022, when compared to the same months in the previous year.
“We expect to get up to around 400 staff for the summer processing applications”
Rae described some of the operational plans in place to help the Home Office keep pace with the demand for visas, saying “the really positive position going into what we expect to be a busy period over the summer, is that we’ve onboarded over 200 staff to help process applications at both the decision making level and underneath with managerial support. We expect to get up to around 400 staff for the summer processing applications.”
Rae continued: “Some application volumes are huge already. Based on information from colleagues within the Home Office, we’re working on the basis that we’ll exceed 450,000 applications. There’s about 8,000 extra CAS being issued a week by institutions across the board.”
Student route visa rule changes have allowed institutions to issue a CAS three months earlier than in previous years and Enroly data suggests processing times by university admissions teams have increased during the current intake.
“Typically we see high volumes of payments and CAS processing in August, creating strain for universities and the UKVI,” Jeff Williams, CEO and co-founder of Enroly, said.
“This fresh data from Enroly Insights highlights the need for universities to process students as early as possible to minimise the risk of delays and deferrals. It’s great to see that many of our university partners are ahead of the curve, and are getting this work done much earlier than in previous years, ultimately benefiting students.”
The importance for international students to apply for visas early is apparent and many students will face an anxious wait. The UK government is yet to announce an update to flexible start dates or visa conditions for students forced into hybrid learning by delays. British universities face a significant deferral risk if visa delays are compounded by inflexible enrolment, start dates and delivery.