James Bennett reveals the Russian visa sanctions which will affect UCL students currently abroad
A number of UCL students studying for their year abroad in Russia have been forced to return home earlier than expected.
Students must leave Russia by the 26th November when their single entry visas will expire. Students were originally told that, as has happened every year, their visa would be extended upon arrival in Russia.
The affected students are those studying at an independent language school (Benedict School) in St. Petersburg, Russia. The course was originally meant to finish in December.
The visa extension was blocked by the Federal Migration Services. A number of reasons have been given for the decision to send students home before the end of the course date. Firstly it has been said that the school did not achieve the correct accreditation and that under a new law, extended visas could not be issued.
It has been suggested that the difficulties in obtaining visas may be the result of the sanctions. Earlier this year a number of Russian student visas were not extended by the UK. In August four Russian diplomats were expelled from the UK when their visas were not extended. This provoked a strong reaction from the Kremlin who said the Home Office were trying to “wreck the international order”.
In a meeting with the director of the Benedict School, they said that the decision to send students home was a reaction to the refugee crisis. A small number of refugees were reported to have travelled through Russia to gain access to Norway, apparently with the help of young people in St. Petersburg.
For joint honours language students this means that they have now finished their Russian studies for the year until they return to UCL in September 2016. This will clearly have a serious affect on the proficiency and grades of many students. For other students it casts doubt over their ability to get another visa and avoid the same problem next term.
The School of Eastern European and Slavonic Studies will be making a decision on whether to send future year abroad students to independent schools or whether to offer only State University options.
Featured image credit: James Bennett