Two changes to the rules on international student visa application are expected to ease the admission of international students into this country. The new rules are part of new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Higher Education through a circular (KPT.600-1/9/1 (2) dated 11 March 2016). The Guidelines came into effect on 15 March 2016.
International students now have the option of applying directly to the agency (EMGS) created by the MOHE to process visa applications from international students. In the past, all visa applications for international students were processed through the institution in which the student applies to study.
The other change is that student passes are now issued for the full duration of the course. The former rules required students to renew the visa every year, whatever the duration of their course.
If these changes are expected to bring cheer to international students, other rules in the new guidelines add to the burdens of higher educational institutions that have to manage these students and keep them in discipline. Higher educational institutions are duty-bound to make a police report if an international student is absent for three consecutive days. But that is not all, institutions are also required to submit reports to the police on other issues concerning students on an international student pass such as their educational status, transfer of courses, transfer of institutions and any wrong-doing on their part. The involvement of police in student affairs is regrettable because of the image it creates of our higher education institutions and our policies generally on higher education. Especially regrettable is the bit about reporting to the police about any wrong-doings by international students. Rules like these give the impression that the international student, compared to the local one is prone to mischief that requires police control and not merely the regulations of the educational institution to keep him/her in discipline. There is a duty here on the MOHE to review this decision; or else all the good that was to be achieved by some of the rules to attract more international students into the country will be defeated by the draconian nature of these other rules.