On Monday the 13 March, the British Council in Sri Lanka hosted an interactive briefing for UK education agents and school counsellors at the Movenpick Hotel in Colombo. The well-attended event saw attendees being introduced to the newly revamped British Council UK agent and counsellor engagement platform – The Hub -, with the opportunity to also have any queries on the UK student mobility process clarified directly by visiting senior UK Visa & Immigration officials.
In research conducted by the British Council, there has been a recorded 874.6% upward surge (from 2019 to 2022) in students from Sri Lanka applying to pursue their undergraduate or postgraduate study in the UK; with a 133.6% spike in student visa applications from just the previous year alone. The study further revealed that while 10 years ago only 10% of applicants sought the assistance of an agent in the process, in 2022 the numbers rose to represent a significant 50%.
It is to cater to this increasing interest in the UK as a premier international study destination, and in recognising the pivotal role study agents and school counsellors play in student recruitment, that the British Council has re-launched The Hub; a one stop platform providing everything agents and counsellors need in order to be able to facilitate -both effectively and legitimately- their clients’ entry to the UK university of their choice.
The Hub falls under the UK’s Education Agent Quality Assurance Framework, which also provides members across the world with more unified and up-to-date communications, good practice guidelines and a national code for ethical practice for UK providers (the British Council, BUILA, UKCISA, and UUKI), as well as greater accessibility to affordable training and certification for both junior and senior agents and counsellors. More notably however, the framework offers both agents and counsellors the opportunity to become a British Council certified agent through a free-of-charge course and examination; a qualification that will have their names included in a global database of accredited agents – a marker of excellence in the field.
At the interactive briefing, Divya Malhotra, Customer Account Manager – Education (SASEA), and Tracy Mikeljohn, Entry Clearance Officer, from UK Visa & Immigration presented to the audience in detail about the UK student visa application process, and also employed their insight to answer the numerous questions posed to them by the audience.
“Our first UK agents and counsellors briefing was a huge success, with a far greater demand than what we were prepared for,” said Hamzi Haniff, Education Programmes Manager at the British Council in Sri Lanka. “We received extremely positive feedback from the attendees as well, who feel they are now able to perform their roles as agents more effectively and with greater clarity, and who are also convinced of the immense professional benefits that come from signing up for the British Council certification course on The Hub.”
“Last year UK VI granted 5,760 student visas to applicants from Sri Lanka alone,” said Divya Malhotra, Customer Account Manager, Education from UK Visa & Immigration. “We’re always grateful for the various initiatives taken by the British Council as a key facilitator for UK study, and after this event, we’re encouraged also by the deep interest study agents and school counsellors in Sri Lanka have expressed in understanding how our processes work so as to serve their clients better.”
British Council 1: UK Visa & Immigration Entry Clearance Officer Tracy Mikeljohn and Customer Account Manager – Education (SASEA) Divya Malhotra