Thousands of students from suspected bogus colleges in UK
Thousands of students who entered Britain through suspected bogus colleges could still be in the country, the Government has admitted.
By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Published: 7:30AM GMT 13 Jan 2010
More than 4,000 migrants were enrolled in schools, colleges and universities which were refused an official licence to sponsor foreign students last year or have since had their licences stripped, figures obtained by the Conservatives disclose.
In addition, those who were in the country before a change in the rules last March have been allowed to stay for the remainder of their leave, even though the Home Office suspects the college they attend is bogus.
A leaked memo showed earlier this week that the Home Office's own intelligence unit has warned the new student visa system is letting in “large numbers” of bogus students because it is “significantly weaker” than its predecessor.
In March last year the Government revised the student visa route under the new points based system, which introduced a requirement for colleges to have to be formally approved to sponsor students from outside the EU.
As a result around 2,000 institutions were refused sponsorship powers. But in a parliamentary written answer, the Government said there were some 3,940 international students enrolled at those establishments.
The Home Office said those students enrolled before the change “would have been granted leave under the student immigration rules in place at the time. These students may stay and study at these institutions for the duration of their existing leave.”
A further written answer showed that another 280 students were at colleges that have had their licence revoked or suspended since last March.
Figures in December also showed that suspected bogus colleges are being discovered at a rate of almost two a month.
Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, said: “There could be no clearer indication of the failure in our student visa system than these figures. It is completely unacceptable that people who come here on false premise should be allowed to stay.
“Ministers have done much too little to get to grips with what is the biggest hole in our immigration and visa system.
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