Government “did nothing” to stop illegal immigration through bogus colleges

July 21, 2009 at 3:26 pm 1 comment

ukborderagency

A committee of MPs has castigated the government’s “totally unacceptable and quite unbelievable” failure to stem the flow of illegal immigrants facilitated by bogus colleges.

Private educational establishments are not subject to regulation by the state, which allows the relatively easy foundation of further education colleges and English language schools.

Many of them are legitimate and effective providers of education, the Home Affairs Select Committee reported.

The term “bogus college” refers to an illegitimate educational establishment set up primarily to enable non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals to come to the UK on fraudulent student visas.

However, lack of regulation also allows for the existence of colleges that are of “very poor quality and are ripping off students who believe that they are coming for a genuine educational experience.”

The phenomenon of bogus colleges was widely reported in the media in the spring of 2009, in particular in The Times newspaper in connection with eight Pakistani nationals arrested in April 2009 under terrorism laws in Operation Pathway.

These students were later found to be in the UK on student visas fraudulently facilitated by an organisation calling itself a “college” but providing extremely limited teaching facilities for the number of students on its books.

The Times reported that those running the scam charged at least £1,000 for admission places and fake diplomas and £2,500 for false attendance records, diplomas and degrees that were used to extend the student visas, enabling them to stay in Britain for longer.

Insufficient quality assurance procedures on the part of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills for private educational establishments on the Register of Education Providers, which facilitated the issuing of student visas between 2005 and 2009, allowed bogus colleges to bring foreign nationals into the UK on fraudulent student visas.

The committee said they are “pleased” that the UK Border Agency has recognised the deficiencies of this system and introduced more rigorous regulation of educational establishments sponsoring student visas under the Points Based System.

They remain cautious about the UK Border Agency’s ability to deal with this issue and will continue to monitor sponsorship arrangements once Tier 4 of the Points Based System has been fully implemented.

Chairman of the Committee Keith Vaz said:

“Bogus colleges may have allowed tens of thousands of foreign nationals to enter the country illegally: the Government has been aware of their existence for ten years and done nothing to stop them.

“This is totally unacceptable and frankly, quite unbelievable. This should not be allowed to continue and action must be taken immediately.

“The Government must restrict the term ‘college’ to prevent any premises above a fish and chip shop from being able to claim it is a reputed educational institution.

“The term ‘college’ should only be given to accredited institutions.

“Firm enforcement action must be taken against any individual whose student visa has expired to ensure that they leave the country, as well as against those who have set up bogus colleges to perpetrate visa fraud.

“We are not convinced that this is happening at the moment.

“Critically, we are concerned that, for example, unannounced inspections of colleges are not being used effectively and UKBA must provide the resources to ensure this is done.

“However, people who do enter the country via bogus colleges can also have been “conned” themselves, thinking they were obtaining a legitimate visa.

“As they have entered the country illegally they cannot be allowed to remain but we should not risk losing the valuable intelligence they could offer on these colleges.”

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Ali  |  November 3, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I think the best way to stop illigal student to check up their NI Number and follow how many hours they work. If they government can stop their limitation of work (20 h), they vogus student will loose their interest to come this country.

    Reply

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