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Saturday, 24 July 2010

Too Poor for Posh School - Documentary (Peter Beckwith Harrow Scholarship)

Please note: This documentary is only currently available to be watched in the UK or via a UK IP address at Channel 4.

On this post, I will be discussing the Channel 4 (UK) documentary titled "Too Poor for Post School". This documentary follows boys who hope to win a all paid (worth £200,000) "Peter Beckwith" scholarship to Harrow. This documentary follows boys at home discussing their future and then the assessment day at Harrow School.

With such a big scholarship at stake Harrow makes sure nothing is missed in assessing the boys. Every year they get many applicants after which only 5 to 10 of whom are invited (after a detailed reference is taken) to come to assessment day. Only 2 or 3 scholarships are offered each year. These boys are (usually) extremely talented and have qualities that any school would love to accept. However they cannot afford to pay the hefty school fees set by the UK's most famous schools. Their only alternative is to either win the scholarship or go to a state funded school.

Assessment includes:

Maths Test
Sport Test
Science Test
Headmaster's Interview
English Test

So, it's a pretty hard day for the 10 or 11 year olds.

After all the results are in, shortlisted candidates are telephoned informing them of the good/bad news.

In my opinion, if your son is talented in any way, it is worth applying. These tests aren't tests that you can prepare for, there is no curriculum, no set texts, no topic list. Some papers may even try to teach your son one or two things in the exam itself!

Harrow Peter Beckwith Scholarship: link1 link2

If you are interested in applying to other public schools with the similar scholarships, here are the links:

Eton College: The King's Scholarship offers pupils from any households anything from 10% to 100% off the school fees depending on the family's financial circumstances. New Foundation Scholarships are available to those educated in the UK state sector for years 6, 7 and 8 up to age 13. It is aimed at boys who would not be able to prepare for the King's Scholarship exam and those who cannot afford the fees.

Tonbridge School: Similarly, the standard academic scholarship offers anything from 10% to 100% off the school fees depending on the financial position of the boy's family. The Foundation Award aims to provide access to a Tonbridge education for boys who are not in a position to sit the typical range of Scholarship or Common Entrance papers in Year 8. Must be attending a state school.

Westminster School: 11+ bursary is available to boys who is attending a state funded school. 13+ bursary is available in the form of a Queen's Scholarship or a standard bursary. For 16+ girls and boys can apply for a bursary. link

King's School Canterbury: The academic scholarship can be a full 100% scholarship if the financial means of the parents are needed.

St Paul's School: 13+ academic scholarship can be increased to a full 100% scholarship. A means-tested bursary can also be offered to normal students.

These scholarships are just a few to mention, I fully support what public schools are doing by offering places to pupils from less privileged background.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

UK Student Visa - Tier 4 PBS - Advice

Please note: The rules and process of the UK immigration system is continuously changing and this advice may not be valid in the future if/when the rules change again.

**This post only applies to non-EU (excl. Switzerland) students wanting to apply/extend their student visas**

Disclaimer: The UK immigration system is a very complicated process and if you need help, please go to an OSIC registered adviser and please do not rely on my post.

This is my second post on the topic of student visas for non-EU students. This time, I would like to focus on what to do when things go wrong.

This can go wrong surprisingly easily. When I mean "go wrong", I mean being refused a visa and/or told to leave the country. You might think "this will never happen to me" but it does happen and much more frequently to unsuspecting students who are careless in their application.

Let's look at the case of my friend from Hong Kong, let's call him F. F is a full time student in the UK, his visa was almost expiring so he applied for an extension whilst in the UK. F filled out everything, F remembered to include his CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) which was implemented recently. F also remembered to include bank statements showing F had funds and of course, photos. F also went all the way to Croydon to submit his biometric details. A couple of weeks later, F's application came back with his passport and a letter explaining that his application had been refused. This was because F had provided the "wrong" photos. By now his original visa had expired but the UKBA told F that he can re-apply in the UK. So F got the "correct" photos and he sent the application back with all the documents including his bank statements.

What F didn't realise was that F was making a "fresh" application by re-applying. A couple of weeks later F's application came back (once again) with a letter explaining that F's application had been refused. This was because F had provided bank statements that were out of date. The bank statements may have been valid when he applied the first time but it was now out of date as he was making a new application when he re-applied. This time F did not get back the passport, the immigration officials kept it. He was not given a right of appeal or admin review as F had re-applied when his original visa expired making it an "out of time" application. F was told he had no right to live in the UK and was an illegal immigrant, he had to leave immediately. But F did not have his passport. F had to buy flight tickets and then F had to call the UKBA to prove he had a ticket and his passport was released. F eventually got his visa back home.

All because of "wrong" photos. Find out the UKBA's photo requirements here

This can not only happen due to wrong photos but also due to wrong bank statements. This case also emphasises the importance of making an application BEFORE your visa expires as this will get you the right of appeal or admin review.

There is also a little known application called Long Residence Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). ILR is basically a permanent residence visa a bit like the Green Card. You normally get ILR through family or work but you can also get it just for living in the UK for 10 years (or 14 years if you are an illegal) This is continuous residence and should not include gaps created by making an application when your original visa has expired. Find out more here.

**UPDATE IMPORTANT** : If you are looking to do some part-time jobs whilst studying in the UK please read.

As an adult student under Tier 4 (General), you are allowed to:

  • do part-time work during term time;
  • do full-time work during vacations;
  • do a work placement as part of your course;
  • work as a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised Foundation Programme; and
  • work as a student union sabbatical officer for up to two years.

For more information about work placements, see the Your course of study page.

The maximum amount of part-time work you can do during term time is:

  • 20 hours per week if you are studying a course at or above UK degree level or a foundation degree course, and/or if you made your application to study under Tier 4 (General) on or before 2 March 2010; or
  • 10 hours per week if you are studying a course that is below UK degree level and is not a foundation degree course, and you made your application to study under Tier 4 (General) on or after 3 March 2010.

The work you do must not fill a full-time permanent vacancy (other than on a recognised Foundation Programme), and you must not be self-employed, employed as a doctor in training (except on a recognised Foundation Programme) or as a professional sportsperson (including coach) or entertainer.

You can work full-time during vacation periods, within the above limits. If you have completed your course and you make an application to remain in the UK under the points-based system before your existing permission to stay expires, you can work full-time (within the above limits) until your application is decided.

As for your family and dependents, if your course is 12 months or more, they will be allowed to work.


The new government has announced new measures, however they have not yet been implemented. Ideas include a compulsory Private medical insurance for students to prevent them from using the National Health Service and a "deposit" which involves a student depositing a sum of money to the government and the student gets the money back when he/she leaves the UK. You now need to know English to study English as a Foreign Language and when you arrive the immigration officials will make sure you know how to speak it!


As you can see, this is a continuously revolving system and it seems the only way this is going is to limit the number of non-EU students as much as possible.
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