According to new research, education agents rank the UK visa process as one of the best in the world. Research conducted in May this year shows that, amid visa processing backlogs worldwide, the UK is benefitting from a positive perception among education agents. Agents also deem the UK to have ‘very good’ visa acceptance rates.
60% of survey respondents said that the UK visa acceptance rate was very good compared with some of its competitors. Global education provider, Navitas, said: “The UK appears to be a league apart compared with its other competitor study destinations.”
Of the 700 agents who took part in the Navitas poll, 53% gave Britain the highest rating for ‘ease of the visa application process’. Australia was a ‘distance second’ at 32%, according to the survey results.
Canada the worst performing
Perhaps surprisingly, Canada ranked worst for all of the parameters used by the research, except visa application cost. The questionnaire sought views around ease, acceptance rates, processing times and the price of study visas.
The report said: “The UK stands to benefit from positive perceptions of its visa processing performance.”
While the UK visa acceptance rate was deemed to be very good by 60% of agents, the US and Canada seemingly performed badly. Less than 20% of agents said US and Canada visa acceptance rates were ‘very good’. Meanwhile, a further 15% said that Canadian and US visa acceptance rates were ‘very poor’.
However, this UK ‘victory’ in the study visa stakes could be short-lived. Since May, the UK has scrapped priority processing for some study visa applicants, while introducing greater visa scrutiny of applications made from so-called ‘high risk’ nations, such as Africa.
The paper also noted that agents in ‘high risk’ markets ‘generally express more negative perceptions of the visa process’, identifying those in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa as having stronger negative sentiments, specifically for Canada and the US.
Navitas said: “This poses a particular challenge for institutions looking to diversify the composition of their international student cohort by growing across the African continent. Diversification has been a key theme in national agendas, including the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.”
One of the key findings of the report is that visa processing times seem to be a far more important factor than visa costs. Canada was one of the lowest ranking destination countries for visa processing times.
The research states that: “Approximately 30% of agents from across the Americas, Greater China, South Asia, South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, rated Canada as Poor/Very Poor regarding Canada’s processing times.”
“Meanwhile, agents in China were perhaps the most negative with 36% of agents rating Canada as poor/very poor on processing times. In 2021, Canada led the world in visa processing,” the research report added.
While Canada did perform best in visa application cost, the research noted that the cost of an application is only a small fraction of the fee for studying overseas.”
“In 2021, Canada led the world in visa processing with the introduction of the innovative, student-centric policy of a guaranteed turnaround time; students that applied for a study permit in May were promised a decision on their application by August, thereby giving students clarity for their ability to commence in the fall,” the research concluded.
“In the coming months as international travel resumes, all destination countries will face increased difficulties when it comes to immigration processing, not just for international students but for other categories of applicants alike. Those destinations that can find ways to prioritise student visas at those critical pre-commencement windows will be able to maximise the momentum of the recovery,” the report added.
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