13 May 2010
UK Student Visa crackdown part of a global effort
UK, American and Australia are part of an international initiative to stop "unscrupulous" recruitment agents who aid bogus overseas students.
The British Council says there are "widespread concerns" about dishonest agents, and unscrupulous agents are accused of falsifying documents to get around the UK Student Visa system.
It also raises concerns about illegal UK immigration, and the possibility of allowing people with terrorist intentions into the country. Students, themselves, may also be duped by the rogue agents.
UK Immigration has recently strengthened the rules for UK Student Visas, even temporarily suspending applications from northern India, Bangladesh and Nepal due to a suspiciously sharp rise in applications.
Universities contend that the majority of agents are legitimate and are an important way of finding overseas students, with four out of five UK universities using agents.
The inaugural meeting of the international effort to tackle fraud included representatives of the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Irish Republic. The different countries will share information and data about dishonest agents.
Pat Killingley, the British Council's director of higher education, said competitor countries need to work together as universities and colleges could not operate without agents and their role was likely to increase.
“As such, it is vital that the small proportion of dishonest agents were stopped,” she said.