Hundreds of UK colleges banned amidst visa reform

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02 November 2011


Hundreds of colleges have been banned from bringing foreign students into the UK under the government's plans to clamp down on immigration and visa abuse.

Tough new rules and enforcement to stop abuse of the Tier 4 student visa system has led to over 450 education providers having their right to sponsor overseas students revoked.

The Tier 4 student visa system is the most common way for migrants from outside the EU to enter the country and has been subject to widespread abuse, according to Immigration Minister Damian Green.

The institutions that have now been banned may have brought more than 11,000 people into the UK each year, according to a press release from UK Border Agency.

"Too many institutions were offering international students an immigration service rather than an education and too many students have come to the UK with the aim of getting work and bringing over family members," said Green. "Only first-class education providers should be given licences to sponsor international students."

The press release stated, one college advertised classes even though the website said it was shut for maintenance, while another could not even produce a list of students enrolled or a timetable of classes. On inspection, others could not produce any records of student attendance, or evidence of checking student qualifications.

"Widespread abuse of the student visa system has gone on for too long and the changes we have made are beginning to bite," said Green.

In addition to more rigorous inspections, colleges that want to keep bringing in international students must also meet new higher sponsorship standards to ensure they are fulfilling their immigration responsibilities. If they do not meet these standards, they will be removed from the sponsorship register.

This news comes shortly after the UK Border Agency announced more than 2,000 banks and financial institutions who can no longer provide evidence to verify a student has sufficient funds for their course. If a bank is on the list, the student citing that institution will not be granted a Tier 4 visa.

The changes to the student route is part of the government's attempt to substantially reduce levels of immigration to the UK.