A college's highly trusted status as a UK visa sponsor could be thrown into doubt after the investgation.
29 March 2012
'Highly trusted' college exposed in UK visa scam
A college rated 'highly trusted' by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has been helping international students gain a UK visa by cheating the UK immigration system.
Staff at the accused college enjoy a 'highly trusted' status at the UKBA, meaning that the college can sponsor international students for a UK visa. However, a recent investigation by Sky News has uncovered that the necessary diploma certificates and dissertations needed to apply for a visa are for sale from members of staff.
International students would usually have to gain a post graduate diploma by completing approximately nine months of study before they became eligible to apply for a visa yet Dr Javed Akhtar, a marketing consultant at the college, told a student he could have his diploma in a week if he paid £1,000.
"Don't worry, it could be done in a week," said Dr Akhtar during undercover filming. "The first thing is registration, then comes your PGD [Post Graduate Diploma].
"When you get your PGD you'll be registered with the university in a day. The only thing you need to do is submit your dissertation."
Dr Akhtar then explained that for £500, the student could pay someone at the college to complete his dissertation for him which would then be sent to the University of Wales for marking.
When the student asked if he could then apply for the visa immediately, Dr Akhtar said: "Yes you can. Everything is done for you. We're just waiting for the money."
Sky News made an initial payment of £270 and received the first section of a completed dissertation while the student received his PGD. The PGD certificate was verified by the examining bodies and confirmed to be genuine.
With the Government determined to crack down on UK immigration, it is likely the the college's status as highly trusted will be thrown into doubt.
Immigration Minister Damian Green told Sky News in a statement: "We are determined to crack down on abuse of the student visa system, which has gone on for far too long.
"This Government has brought in radical changes across the board which are beginning to bite.
"We take all allegations very seriously and the UK Border Agency were already aware of allegations....andundertook a visit to their premises on Monday as part of an ongoing investigation."
When Sky News approached Dr Akhtar for his response to these allegations, he denied all knowledge while the college insisted that despite an email address, phone number and office inside the college building, Dr Akhtar was not, and never has been, employed there.
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.