In “first major signal” that 2020 will see some Indian students travel to campuses overseas, a selection of UK visa application centres in India are set to reopen in the country on July 6, according to Visa Facilitation Services Global.
According to VFS Global, as part of a phased resumption of services centres will be open in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru (Global Tech Park), Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Jalandhar, Kolkata, Mumbai (South), New Delhi and Pune.
““It’s going to give students the confidence to start their programs online”
The remaining VACs and enrolment locations in India will not be open for “some time” according to a statement on the VFS Global website.
“Your safety is our priority, so customers visiting our Visa Application Centres may be asked to observe physical distancing, undergo temperature checks or be required to wear facemasks, subject to local authority guidelines,” it read.
Managing director of Global Reach, Ravi Lochan Singh, told The PIE News that the announcement is the “first major signal” that 2020 will see some students travel to university campuses.
“The virus curve is now flattening in the UK and there are indications that most of the universities will have face to face classes,” he said.
Sushil Sukhwani, director of Edwise said that the reopening of the centres was “excellent news”.
“Visas have always been something that people are worried about, even though the success rate for the UK visa is extremely high,” he said.
“It’s going to give students the confidence to start their programs online. They won’t have that anxiety about what will happen if they don’t get a visa.”
While the reopening of VACs has been welcomed by stakeholders, quarantine requirements and travel restrictions could pose problems for students who want to come to UK campuses.
“The challenges now are around travel restrictions but these will slowly be eased, and since the universities need to be reached only by September, there is some time,” explained Lochan Singh.
“The other question running in the students’ minds is around the quarantine requirements and as to whether it will cost [them].
“We must bear in mind that there will be students who may still defer to the spring intake of 2021 but our hope will be that most students will continue on with their plans.”
The UK announced in June that international students will remain eligible for post-study work rights upon graduation if they begin or continue their studies online in the 2020/21 academic year.
Sukhwani said that he was “extremely happy” with the UK government’s announcement around PSW.
“[It is] the best proposition for students across all the top study destinations. In my view it is a really a tough benchmark for any other destination to reach.
He explained that the PSW measures have eased Indian students’ concerns about the present and following semester and have provided them with a safety net in case the pandemic goes on longer.
“Students who are keen to get the campus experience are eager to get over to the UK as soon as the situation permits but the government update eases their stress completely,” he said.
The update around PSW is another factor that might convince students to start their courses online, according to Sukhwani.
“They have started confirming their admissions and making tuition fee deposits,” he said.
“There could be a surge in students selecting UK over some other destinations if the pandemic constrains travel or visa issuance for alternate destinations.”