UK to tighten student visa rules
London, Feb 08: Britain is to tighten the rules on immigrants entering Britain on a student visa, the government said on Sunday in a clampdown on a system which some security experts say has been exploited by Muslim militants.
Home Secretary (interior minister) Alan Johnson said the crackdown was part of a wider campaign against immigrants who apply for student visas even though they intend to work. The tighter controls could also help to tackle security concerns over militants who enter Britain ostensibly to study.
A senior Pakistani official in London accused the British government last year of failing to cooperate with the security screening of Pakistani nationals trying to study in Britain.
The issue climbed back up the political agenda last month when it emerged that the Nigerian man accused of plotting to blow up a passenger plane over Detroit tried to re-enter Britain last April to study at a bogus college.
Mr Johnson's department said the changes were drawn up before the alleged Christmas Day attack and were part of a wider campaign to keep a closer eye on overseas students. "We will come down hard on those that flout the rules," Johnson said.
Mr Johnson said that nearly a third of immigrants sought to enter Britain on a student visa and that the country was the second most popular study destination in the world.
The government has closed down 200 bogus colleges, which help students into Britain but don't offer proper courses.
A Home Office spokesman would not confirm how many student visas are expected to be cut each year. Britain issued 236,000 student visas in 2008-09 and refused 110,000 applications.
Under the new rules, applicants from outside the European Union will need to speak better English and will face tougher restrictions on taking part-time jobs.
Immigration has long been a source of criticism for the ruling Labour, behind in polls before an election due by June.
Opposition Conservative leader David Cameron has accused ministers of allowing an unsustainable number of immigrants into Britain and has proposed a cap to keep levels down. DawnYour Comments
PhD testing policy annoys students
Islamabad: Students of higher learning have expressed their annoyance over the GRE subject policy of Higher Education Commission (HEC) that classifies them in two different categories without any solid reason.
The data provided by the students state that HEC allows students of some disciplines to take the local NTS test for admission to PhD while making it mandatory for some others to take the international GRE test.
The 12 disciplines that allow the local NTS test include Agriculture Sciences, Botany, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Economics, Education, Electronics, Islamic Studies, Library Sciences, Management Sciences, Computer & Telecom Engineering, and Urdu, while the students of eight disciplines of Biochemistry, Cell & Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, English Literature, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology are required to take the international GRE test.
The substantial difference in the fee structure of the two exams is also another main concern for the students, as the fee for the local GRE test is Rs1,000 while it amounts to Rs13,500 for the international GRE test to take admission in their respective disciplines.
The students raised the question that since there is no requirement for such a test even in the universities in Europe, is HEC trying to go beyond the standard of European universities in their effort to maintain quality education?
In their written statement, the students asked that if there is an obligation on PhD students to take the GRE test, then what is the need of the Comprehensive Test after the completion of the PhD coursework and the subjective (GRE) admission test by the universities?
"We use the country's resources to complete our theses but now we have to go through the transfer of our credit hours to some foreign university to easily get degree, all due to HEC's wrong policies," they said.
In their written suggestion provided to this correspondent, the students emphasised the need for uniform criteria, urging that all students should either be required to take the local NTS or the international GRE subject test.
Executive Director HEC Dr Sohail Naqvi said that two sets of criterion for GRE test were formed in 2005 with an aim to serve the best interests of the students, who want to excel in their respective disciplines. He said there is an open opportunity for those who succeed in their international GRE test, as in that case, the whole fee is paid by the HEC and it does not cost the successful students even a single rupee, adding that if anyone is talented and brilliant, he should not worry about the expenses of the international GRE test
"The international GRE test is required only in those subjects where students must have a strong basic knowledge, otherwise, they face a number of problems while studying at higher learning institutes," he said and added, "The students must acknowledge that the international GRE test was introduced to favour them, as it can enable them in having a strong basic knowledge in their subject of interest," he said.
PU professor appoints son, violates rules
Peshawar: Prof Dr Mohammad Iqbal, a senior faculty member of the University of Peshawar, has finally succeeded in posting his son to the university against a Grade-18 post without following proper procedure.
Prof Iqbal, Dean of the Faculty of Numerical Sciences, usually takes over as acting vice-chancellor when Prof Dr Azmat Hayat goes on leave. Vice-chancellor Azmat Hayat was in Lahore in connection with his heart surgery and, thus, Dr Iqbal was officiating in his place at the university.
Taking benefit of his authority, Dr Iqbal managed to shift his son, Shahid Iqbal, on deputation from Malakand University to the UoP and posted him against a non-existent Grade-18 post in the Electronics Information Technology (EIT) Department, sources said. The sources said senior officials at the EIT were not happy with the decision.
The sources said that Shahid Iqbal had done his masters in computer science. After doing his masters, he was appointed against a clerical post in the administration department of the UoP.
When his father became the vice-chancellor of the Malakand University some three years ago, he was appointed as lecturer in the Computer Science Department there. And now he has been brought on deputation to the UoP, the sources added.
Education in Dir Upper needs proper attention of govt
Dir Upper: Already having a low literacy rate, majority of the government-run schools in Dir Upper district have been facing shortage of teaching staff for years, with the public representatives quite indifferent to the issue.
According to the data obtained from the education office in the district, there are 793 government primary schools - 204 for girls and 589 for boys - 82 middle and 39 high schools. Among the middle and high schools, 21 middle and six high schools are for girls.
The district with 800,000 population has only two degree colleges, one each for girls and boys. There are seven higher secondary schools, with only two for girls. Out of 33 high schools for boys, only four are headed by principals including Centennial Model High School, Rehankot High School, Gamseer High School and Wari High School.
All other 29 high schools for boys are being administered by ad-hoc principals for the last several years. It is lamentable that some of the high schools are officiated by Certified Teachers (CTs), though others are looked after by Senior English Teachers.
"Our school has been without a principal besides lacking teaching staff," Ishfaq Khan, a student of the high school in the remote Kair Darra, said. Five higher secondary schools for boys and two for girls have also been functioning without principals since long.
Four schools - Bibyawar middle school for girls, Girls High School Wari, Girls High School Ganori and Girls Primary School Chukiatan - have been torched or bombed by militants. The literacy rate of the district is also formidable at 21 per cent, with that of female at only 6.1 per cent.
More astonishing is the fact that the remote Kohistan area - having seven union councils - has only seven per cent literacy rate with that of female at awful 0.6 per cent. The reasons are historic, as education had been banned in the princely state of Dir. However, after that no serious steps were taken to provide people with the opportunity to get education and become good citizens.
The current situation in schools with regard to teaching staff speaks volume for the interest of the public representatives. "Building of schools means there would be teaching staff to impart education to students as empty building would serve no purpose.
It is unfortunate that most of government-run schools in our district are functioning without heads and teachers," Hasham Hussain, nazim union council Ganori, said. The students and local people demanded of the government to take measures for filling the vacant posts immediately. The news
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