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Upsurge in foreign students in Philippines

Rise attributed to proficiency of Filipino teachers in English

Gulf News

Manila: An increase in the number of foreigners studying and applying for student visas in the Philippines has risen by 14 per cent to 47,478 according to the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

The figures were based on the amount of student visa application received and processed for 2012.

In comparison, there were 41,443 foreigners who applied in 2011.

“Our country is fast emerging as a new educational hub in the Asia-Pacific region. More and more foreigners are coming here to study and it demonstrates recognition of the improved quality of our educational system,” Immigrations Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. said.

David attributed the increase in foreign students to the proficiency of Filipino teachers in the English language. English is the country’s main medium of instruction in tertiary educational institutions.

According to lawyer Cris Villalobos, Immigrations student desk head, some 31,000 Special Study Permit (SSP) account for the bulk of the foreign students while 16,478 others were issued with student visas. Most of the SSP holders are based in the provinces.

Villalobos said the SSP is issued to a foreigner below 18 years old who will study in the elementary, secondary, and tertiary levels or in special courses of less than one year.

The Immigrations had tightened the screening of student visa applicants since March amid reports of a proliferation of fake foreign students in the country.

Reports said some illegal immigrants try to gain entry to the country by applying as students.

To remedy this concern, schools are required to designate a liaison officer for student visa applicants who shall exclusively represent or assist their foreign enrollees.

“Only schools accredited by the Bureau of Immigration, Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and Federation of Accrediting Agencies are authorised to accept foreign students,” the Immigrations chief said.

Amongst others, foreign students in the Philippines are mainly comprised of Koreans and Iranians.