UK announces clampdown on bogus students
Posted on December 7, 2010
The UK is to massively restrict access to student visas after figures revealed that 26% of non European Union students flout the rules.
The Home Office says that it is thousands of students attending private colleges that are the problem with many disappearing into the black economy or working illegally. Only 2% of university students end up breaking the immigration rules.
Officials have decided to slash the number of visas to non-EU students and only those going to university or attending a small number of trusted private colleges will be granted entry.
It is also part of the country’s plan to drive down immigration overall. Immigration Minister Damian Green said that the previous Labour government had left behind a legacy of a system that ‘is wildly out of control’.
Many enter the country on a student visas and then never attend courses. Since March 2009, 56 educational establishments have had their licences revoked for ‘helping’ students breach visa laws.
Home Office research shows that students represent almost two thirds of the non-EU migrants entering the UK each year. Last year, the figure was more than 300,000. But officials said 41% of students from abroad were coming to study a course below degree level, and abuse was ‘particularly common’ at those levels.
Examples include a supposed student from Delhi, who travelled to the UK to enrol on a diploma course in hospitality management and thought the course would allow him to become a doctor. He could not understand English. While an IT student had not heard of a world-renowned IT company.
There has been a 40% increase in the number of so called bogus colleges which officials believe have been set up to abuse the system. They often offer A levels and vocational and language courses.
‘We will only admit people to do degrees at a genuine institution or with a verifiable sponsor,’ said Green. He added that they would also have to demonstrate a better command of English and will face tighter rules on working or bringing family members with them. They could be restricted to working a maximum of 20 hours per week.
Officials said that the aim is to cut the number of overseas students by up to 90,000 a year if ministers are to meet their pledge to cut overall immigration. ‘We cannot reduce net migration significantly without tackling abuse of the student visa route. By introducing a system that is more selective and more robust, the Government is aiming to stamp out abuse while continuing to attract the top students to our top universities,’ one said.