Centres in Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Shanghai are part of a UK Visas and Immigration phased resumption of services, VFS Global has announced.

“It’s good news, it’s progress, it’s things moving in the right direction”

Stakeholders have previously warned that visa application issues could result in students not being able to reach universities in September, with Universities UK International stating that there was “absolutely a risk” that students would not be able to make it to the UK.

The latest announcement is progress, Bobby Mehta, director of UoP Global at the University of Portsmouth said.

“It’s good news, it’s progress, it’s things moving in the right direction which will definitely aid the sector in terms of reopening in the autumn,” Mehta told The PIE News.

“As this type of information feeds through we can then start working on plans. It’s good to see the UK government being very responsive and working on these types of things.

“There is good awareness and now universities need to start planning on the back of that,” he added.

Deputy director Of Operations (International) at De Montfort University, Chris Sharpe, said the announcement was “great news” for both DMU and the sector.

“The opening of the processing centres will provide us with confidence that there will be students coming to study on campus in September.

“It is a big step in the right direction that we can start getting back to some normality,” he told The PIE.

He said that with a phased re-opening, “hopefully we can start to get a sense of the customer sentiment within China and how confident the market is with the UK’s response”.

“What it does do though is increase the emphasis on universities to ensure that they are Covid-19 secure and that we have right provisions in place to safely deliver face to face teaching,” he added.

Director of Education and Sports for British Council China, Jazreel Goh, said it is “slowly but surely” progress.

“Having [visa services] open and therefore making it possible for those who want to come to be able to apply, that is a good thing,” she noted.

Additionally, the British Council is working closely with the Chinese government to find solutions for English testing solutions, she said.

However, IELTS tests – along with other secure English language tests – remain cancelled across mainland China for June.

The British Council has said it continues to follow all directives made by the Chinese government to contain the outbreak, while it is constantly reviewing the situation to ensure that testing will restart “as soon as we are able to”.

“We are working very closely with the Chinese government to look at what are the other solutions that are available given that it is quite a crunch time now.

“Hopefully, there will be some good news soon,” Goh explained.

“We are working very closely with the Chinese government”

Visa application services for global study destinations were halted earlier this year.

VFS Global, which manages UK visa applications in China, said visa applicants have been able to book appointments since May 25 and are following local authority social distancing guidelines in its centres.

Customers showing Covid-19 symptoms would be helped to reschedule application submission for another day, it added.

Some services, including Super Priority Visa, Priority Visa Service (visit) or Priority Visa for settlement or migration Service will still not be offered.

The UK government has announced it will introduce 14-day quarantine requirements for those entering the country as of June 8, in order to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

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