Immigration Raids ‘Fake’ Colleges

Immigration raids 'fake' colleges

BBC News
Thursday, 4 October 2007

Three people were held in raids at two colleges suspected of aiding foreign students stay in the country illegally, a Home Office spokesman said.

A man, who is a college principal, is suspected of obtaining leave to remain in the UK by deception.

Two women, who are both college administrators, are suspected of breaching their visa conditions.

The raids were on Monteagle College and Lloyds College in a business centre in Stratford, east-London.

Empty room

No-one at the colleges could be reached for comment.

The colleges are thought to teach 600 students, but when the 35 immigration staff and police officers arrived they found one empty classroom, no teachers, and one student who was handing in a letter.

The raid is part of an on-going investigation into privately-run colleges which immigration authorities say can be involved in helping people to stay in the UK without the correct visas.

One student, from Bombay, India, who was questioned as part of the operation in east London, said he was paying 4,000 a year for a business course at the college.

He told officers: “I don't come regularly. I haven't been here for the last two weeks.”

The Border and Immigration Agency said it would now check the visa status of all the students registered at the colleges.

An agency spokesman said students who were not attending classes would have their visas revoked.

Tony Smith, the Border and Immigration Agency's regional director for London and the South East, said: “We are anxious to promote foreign study in the UK, and foreign students are of great benefit.

“However unfortunately there are circumstances where colleges and proprietors seek to abuse immigration laws for personal gain and we are anxious to clamp down on this.”

“We would have expected to see a number of classrooms and teachers today. There is one empty classroom, no teachers and one student.

“This is not operating as you would expect a college to operate.”