International students are paying up to £200 for “inadequate” study visa services, according to UK universities

UK Universities are calling for a better document-checking service as international students face many difficulties

Many international students in the UK are complaining over difficulties they’re facing at document-checking service centers as they have to wait for a long time and often pay up to £200 in additional service fees, reports Studying-in-UK.org.

International students who want to get a student visa must initially have their documents checked by authorities in charge. In the past students could easily get to a local post office and complete this procedure.

But after the government hired a private contractor to carry out with this process students are facing a lot of different problems. Sopra Steria, the company which has been handed the authority to check documents and enrol biometric information it seems to have failed meeting students’ needs.

Despite that a lot has been done from Home Office, UK Visas and Immigration and Universities UK to address students’ concerns with document-checking service many of them have remained still.

Universities UK, a group of British universities, has recently listed common issues international students face during their documents’ checking:

  • Students have to wait at least two weeks to get a free appointment. Some of them have waited for up to 30 days.
  • Access and processing online information are very difficult. On many occasions, students have to reach on phone the support line for which they’re charged ₤2.50 per minute.
  • Students cannot often wait that much and pay for a premium service and are asked to travel many miles to any service center.
  • Usually, they pay ₤100 to ₤200₤, but they still cannot get a free appointment. Even if they manage to find one they still have to wait for hours in long queues. Moreover oftentimes when they don’t get an appointment they don’t get reimbursed.
  • Accessibility issues with Sopra Steria service.

The contractor Sopra Steria has already tried to solve these problems by establishing some pop-up service centers at the university campuses. However, it seems not much has changed in the whole story.

15 minutes appointment offered at these remote service centers can cost students up to ₤50 and are paid either from them or universities. It means this is the highest cost international students pay for their UK student visa. Also, universities lack enough space and human resources to hand a large flow of appointments for document-checking. Concerns are arising as universities are getting ready to welcome thousands of young students in September.

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