There's been a surge in education agents charging higher fees to Indian students seeking spots at UK universities before the government-imposed ban on dependents entering the country starting January 1, 2024.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's decision to ban dependents of students not pursuing "high-value" degrees came after a significant increase in family members accompanying foreign students, prompting concerns about visa abuse.
Reports suggest exorbitant fees being charged to secure student visas and dependent visas. For instance, one couple paid 30,000 pounds to secure both visas, emphasizing the urgency among students to expedite their visa applications before the ban takes effect.
To circumvent the impending ban, some students are resorting to unconventional methods. There are cases of "contract" marriages where individuals without the necessary qualifications for a student visa agree to sponsor their spouse's education in return for dependent visa sponsorship to work in the UK.
Others, like Rinku Sharma from Ahmedabad, have made significant financial sacrifices, selling land to afford an education agent's fee for a master's course and a dependent visa for his wife. This investment is seen as a means to secure a promising future both in the UK and India.
Education consultancies are witnessing a surge in spouse applications, and universities are accommodating the rush by opening applications earlier than usual, accepting students in November and December.
The contribution of international students, including dependents, to the UK economy is substantial, with estimates suggesting an annual addition of 35 billion pounds. Apart from tuition fees, students and their dependents contribute through NHS surcharges, adding to the economic landscape.
As the deadline for the ban approaches, Indian students are racing against time, navigating through various channels to secure their spot in UK universities and secure a future in both the UK and their home country.
(With Agency Inputs)