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David, You have encapsulated this nonsense in your usual articulate and erudite way. In the teeth of Global financial crisis, when most people are cautious (in spite of favourable exchange rates for those seeking an education in the UK) and swine flu, (particularly affecting summer programmes in my market China), the British authorities introduce the first changes in visa policy for some 47 years with draconian implementation. One might think that it would be in the interests of the British economy for the Embassies and Consulates to assist those recruiting students to British institutions who were understandably confused by the new policy and its implementation, to get it right? No, of course not! Instead, there has been widespread refusal of genuine Chinese student applicants based on minor technical mistakes in documentation issued by UK Educational institutions. This, inevitably, has led to local recruiters (educational agents) turning away from the UK and heading back to the once favoured education destination - the USA, for which visas are now readily available. Self Inflicted Wounds (SIWs) seem to be a speciality of the UK; I am reminded of the drive in China, post SARS, when a campaign 'Quality not Quantity' was implemented by the British consulates with disastrous results for the education community in the UK.

In a previous blog regarding accreditation, you refer to box ticking. As a member of the old Recognition Advisory Committee (the RAC), I remember opposing a move to the newly proposed box ticking exercise. How can you possibly see a 'whole' when all you have succeeded in doing is to dissect it? It's just the same with visa categories now. If you are a 15 year old from China, in need of lengthy ELT, pre A Level/GCSE, A Levels/IB + University, how can you (or anyone) begin to understand your journey as far as visas are concerned. And if you can understand it, does it make any sense flying from one continent to another simply to obtain another type of visa? It's all ill thought out and smacks of bureaucracy with little inclination to consult the experts, especially in the early stages of proposed change.


I think any erudition in my contribution is more than matched by yours, Tony, and you are of course seeing it all as it affects both students and businesses, as well as its negative effect on UK education. I suppose I hope that Ms Follett is interested in encouraging tourism and in increasing visitor numbers to Britain, and so with her I take that angle. The problem is of course that we have allowed the control freaks to take charge, and they end up putting tighter controls on those who tend to comply while losing control of those who tend not to and missing the wider picture.

You might be interested in this parliamentary committee session http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=4180 Notice how non-accredited slides into dodgy and illegal and how this spectre is used to support a control rationale which can only further depress the market.


Hi, David,

If you have a licence for a dog here, you're likely to be inspected by the dog police. If you have a proper resident's visa, you're likely to be visited now and again by the police to make sure that after every visit abroad you have re-registered. If you pay taxes and other dues, you are chased for more; it's what's expected, unpleasant though it can be with neighbourhood watches everywhere. I live in a hutong where there is a constant watch on foreigners. (It's not so bad really!)

However, you're right about accredited schools in the UK, in the same sense. If you're visible, you're disadvantaged. Those dog owners in China without licences, those without proper visas, and those BC IELTS examiners who are paid (with diplomatic immunity) and who don't pay taxes, rest in relative peace.

It's often difficult to be a good citizen, wherever you are; the temptations to avoid and evade are too compelling especially when the authorities are too lazy to chase the real miscreants and where 'employers' hide behind diplomatic immunity.

Through their diplomatic status here the BC eschews responsibility for visa status of examiners (for example) and individual tax issues resulting from pay made to examiners.

It's just not right!

Diplomatic Immunity!


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