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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Nursing News: UK limits nursing student visa requests

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By Veronica Uy
First Posted 12:01:00 02/27/2009

Filed Under: Nursing matters, Education, Overseas Employment

MANILA, Philippines – Overwhelmed by the 47,000 student visa applications it received in 2008 mostly from Filipino nurses, the United Kingdom has decided to restrict their number under the National Vocation Qualification (NVQ) from its Manila office.

“At the moment, we are processing 10 NVQ applications a day, subject to review,” Oya Arriola, spokesperson of the British embassy in Manila, said Friday.

In an announcement, the embassy said the UK Border Agency International Group noted the 22 percent increase in these applications.

Most Filipino nurses choose to take health-care courses in the UK and apply for NVQ visas to get jobs as professionals in the field in the UK.

“In accordance with this decision, instructions have been given to our commercial partner, VFS, who operate the Manila Visa Application Center, to put these restrictions into immediate effect,” the advisory said.

“Our reason for doing so is the overwhelming increase in the number of applications that we have received over the past year,” it said, noting a 22-percent increase over 2007 applications.

The British embassy said increasing Manila’s staffing for 2009 was decided.

In a related development, Philip Leonard, chairman of the International Student Advisors Corp., a recruitment consultancy firm, said that starting April, the British embassy would implement a point-based system for Filipino nurses and other health-care professionals wanting to work in the UK.

Thus, Leonard advised these nurses to focus on getting higher education degrees, particularly the BSc (Hons) Degrees on International Nursing or Social and Health Care over the Further Education Course such as the NVQ.

He said student visas for higher education degrees were still being processed.

Together, the restriction on NVQ visa applications and the point-based system would slow down the process of getting nursing jobs in the UK, Leonard said.

“In fact nurses should really not be looking to undertake NVQ courses as it does not represent their current education standard, something the embassy has been keen to point out to students as this is why many nurses applications for a student visa fail because the course they are enrolling in is academically much lower than the Filipino qualifications already gained,” he said.

Leonard said the new points system for Tier 4 student visas was expected to require 40 points.

“You will need to gain the 40 points under the new system, 30 of these points will come from your UK education provider, who must be registered and approved for Tier 4,” he said.

“The remaining 10 points will come from providing adequate funds for your time in the UK and proof you have paid your tuition for the first year and that your documentation is in order. Other points required may be from IELTS [International English Language Testing System],” he added.

Leonard, whose company he claimed has been able to send over 500 Filipinos who want to work as nurses to the UK, said the new points system was good for all stakeholders.

“Universities, students, vocational work placement providers, and the British government will have a far more transparent system to deal with,” he said.

“This will hopefully exclude those organizations and educational providers who have in some cases been abusing the system in order to simply get students to the UK without actually providing a worthwhile course for the students to follow,” he added.

Many Filipino nurses and other health-care professionals have resorted to studying again in the UK in the hope of getting a job there after.


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