13 January 2010
Suspected bogus colleges spark UK Student Visa concerns
Government figures in December 2009 have revealed that suspected bogus colleges are being discovered at a rate of almost two a month, a result the shadow Home Secretary is indicative of a gap in the UK immigration system.
Around 2,000 schools, colleges and universities were refused an official licence to sponsor foreign students last year, or have since had their licences stripped, although more than 4,000 overseas students were enrolled with UK Student Visa, the Conservatives disclosed.
Students who were in the country before a UK Visa rule change in the rules last March have been allowed to stay for the remainder of their leave, even though the Home Office suspects the college they attend is bogus.
A leaked memo earlier this week showed that the Home Office's own intelligence unit has warned the new student visa system is letting in "large numbers" of bogus students because it is "significantly weaker" than the previous system.
The student visa route under the new points-based system, introduced in March last year, introduced a requirement for colleges to be formally approved to sponsor students from outside the EU and as a result around 2,000 institutions were refused sponsorship powers.
Some 3,840 international students were enrolled at these establishments, and a further 280 students were at colleges that have had their licence revoked or suspended since March 2009.
The Home Office said those students enrolled before the change "would have been granted leave under the student immigration rules in place at the time. These students may stay and study at these institutions for the duration of their existing leave."
Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "There could be no clearer indication of the failure in our student visa system than these figures. It is completely unacceptable that people who come here on false premise should be allowed to stay”.