Illegal immigration: Foreign students who miss lectures will be reported
Foreign students who miss more than 10 lectures in a row will be reported to the Government under new plans to crack down on illegal immigration.
By Christopher Hope, Home Affairs Editor
Last Updated: 12:59AM BST 31 Jul 2008
However, foreigners will be able to avoid the new requirements if they opt to enter the UK as a “student visitor”, rather than under a student visa.
The Conservatives said that this was a potential loophole which could be exploited by unscrupulous immigrants who had no intention of studying here.
The moves were announced by the immigration minister Liam Byrne as part of a shake-up of the student visa system to crack down on bogus colleges.
Universities and colleges will also have to apply for a 400 licence to recruit international students and could be blacklisted if they fail to comply with new regulations.
The proposals form Tier 4 of the Government's new points-based immigration system. It will force colleges offering courses longer than six months to accept responsibility for a student while he or she is in the UK.
They will have to keep up-to-date contact details for all students and report to the Home Office if a student misses 10 lectures in a row, fails to enrol on time or quits college.
If this happened to a number of students, the Home Office would consider the college's “overall suitability” as a licensed college to teach international students.
Once accepted on a course by a licensed college, each student will have to prove to the UK Border Agency that he or she has enough money to pay their fees and support themselves and any dependants.
They will also have to prove they have a track record in achieving qualifications before coming to the UK.
If successful they will be allowed to stay in the UK for up to four years, longer than under present rules.
They will also be allowed to work in the country for up to two years after completing their studies – 12 months more than at present, as discloseed by The Daily Telegraph yesterday.
Immigration minister Liam Byrne said: “All those who come to Britain must play by the rules. It is right that foreign students wanting to take advantage of our world-class universities and colleges must meet strict criteria.
“By locking people to one identity with ID cards, alongside a tough new sponsorship system, we will know exactly who is coming here to study and crack down on bogus colleges.”
In 2006, 309,000 people from outside Europe came to Britain on student visas – but this figure does not include those coming as short-term student visitors.
The Home Office said that student visitors had to pass an “intentions test” showing they support themselves and will leave after completing their course.
But shadow immigration minister Damian Green said: “This new system is so full of loopholes it will be useless at best and might even encourage the growth of bogus colleges or applications.”