Report suggests bogus colleges number thousands
By Jim Pickard
The Financial Times
Published: July 21 2009 03:00 | Last updated: July 21 2009 03:00
Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have been allowed to come to the UK because of the government's failure to clamp down on bogus colleges, a critical report says today.
The Commons home affairs committee said most entered on fraudulent visas to work illegally, not to further their education.
Although the committee was unable to put a figure on fake colleges, it suggested they could run into the hundreds or thousands.
“There around 2,200 colleges which were on the register of education providers but are not on the register of sponsors,” the report said. That did not “automatically mean” a college was “bogus”, however.
The committee also criticised the UK Border Agency for giving advance notice of inspections to colleges in up to 85 per cent of visits.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee, said it was “unacceptable and unbelievable'' that ministers had done nothing about a problem they had known about for more than a decade.
He called for “immediate action” to stem the flow of bogus students and said the committee was unconvinced that effective action was being taken to make sure students whose visas had expired were being made to leave.
Chris Grayling, shadow home secretary, described it as a “damning report” that pointed to “systematic mismanagement” of the immigration system during the past decade.
“It's quite clear that ministers hid their heads in the sand over bogus colleges, and in doing so could have allowed tens of thousands of people to enter the country illegally. It has been nothing short of a scandal,” he said.
However, the committee found no substantial evidence to corroborate any link between bogus colleges and terrorist -activity.
Several Pakistani nationals arrested in April, having entered the UK on fraudulent student visas, were released without charge.