UK Visa Update

June 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Study Abroad

Message from the BC – 4 June 2009

The PBS Tier 4 visa application system was launched at the end of March. We have worked closely with the visa section in providing the new information and guidelines to agents and students, but we are unfortunately faced with a disproportionately high rejection rate for visa applications.

We have dealt with this case as promptly as possible with the visa section at the British Embassy. Here are the immediate first steps we are taking to try and solve this problem:

1. Checklist for a visa letter

As the main reason given for visa rejection is the visa letter itself, the visa section has prepared for us a checklist for the provision of a visa letter with information on specific errors which have occurred. Please see the two files attached for further information. The key message from the visa section is that documents all need to be in order and meet the clear criteria. The Embassy is no longer allowed to use discretion in making decisions. If the documents do not provide the exact information needed then the application will be rejected.

2. Pre-sessional courses

For Thai students going to study for a pre-sessional course and who have had their visas rejected due to the wrong visa letter being submitted by UK institutions, we understand that it will be too late for them to re-apply and wait for another two weeks for the visa.

On discussion with the visa section, it is recommended that the students re-apply immediately. The visa section has agreed with the British Council in Thailand to process these applications quickly if the students mention to the VFS the dates for the beginning of the course, and ask VFS to attach a note to their second application stating the immediacy of the course date.

Broadband Phones

May 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Study Abroad

Broadband Phones – stay in touch when you study abroad.

One of the main issues faced when students move to the UK it culture shock – the anxiety felt by students when having to study within a different cultural or social environment. To help you survive it is important to stay in touch with family and friends at home. Email is an obvious choice but can be very impersonal. Calling from the UK on a land line or mobile can be expensive. An option often overlooked by students is that of broadband phones – using the internet to make calls, cheaply and effectively. Broadband ensures that the quality is good and the voice of Internet protocol (VoIP) system keeps the cost down.

There are two types of phones that you can use

* software broadband phones that require the other person to have a similar system on their PC. You use a microphone and speakers connected to you PC or notebook.

*hardware broadband phones that act like you usual fixed line phone.

There are many suppliers in the UK offering broadband services, usually as part of an Internet package. Some examples of providers include O2, BT, Virgin, Talk Talk and so on. Prices and bandwidth do vary so be sure to shop around before choosing a package – you are typically required to sign up for a fixed time so make sure it fits with you study dates and may not be the cheapest. Prices range from about GBP6.00 per month for an 8MB connection to GBP20 per month for 24MB.

Leading suppliers of VoIP services include Skype, Vonage, Plusnet and so on. Each has different deals and you need to carry out your own research to make sure that you select the correct package to suit your needs. Perhaps one of the best sources of information is to ask your fellow students for their advice. Be sure to ask about quality since this can still be an issue – make sure they are getting good reception to your home country.

Keep in mind that mobile broadband is becoming more widely available and this may be an attractive alternative to fixed broadband if you intend to move around. Prices start at about GBP10 per month but prices will rise depending on speed. Currently speeds can reach 7.2MB so the system can be used for a broadband phone set-up.

Finally, look for special offers. Some providers are offering a “free” notebook PC when you sign up – it may not be a top spec computer but it will get you on-line cheaply and easily.