Saturday, 15 May 2010

Bogus students facing global crackdown

"Unscrupulous" recruitment agents who bring bogus overseas students into the UK are being targeted in an international initiative.



The British Council has for the first time brought together countries including the UK, the US and Australia to try to keep out such students.
The council says there are "widespread concerns" about dishonest agents.
Universities say the majority of agents are legitimate and are an important way of finding overseas students.
Rogue agents are accused of falsifying documents and helping people to get around the student visa system, the rules of which immigration authorities in the UK have tried to tighten.
Expanding business
It is a problem that raises concerns about illegal immigration and the possibility of people with terrorist intentions coming into the country, although in many cases it is the students themselves who are being duped.
A meeting of immigration and education authorities in London, the first of its kind, is intended to co-ordinate a multi-national response.
Higher education has become a globalised market and the British Council says there needs to be an international approach to tackling fraud.
In particular there are concerns about agents fraudulently sending students from Pakistan, India, Kazakhstan and parts of Africa.
Legitimate agents recruit for a commission, which can be worth several thousands of pounds per student, bringing overseas students to universities, colleges and language schools.
Four out of five UK universities use agents, says the British Council, with "many thousands" of individual agents working in this expanding business.
The British Council says that some dishonest agents advertise courses as a route to migration and claim to "guarantee" success in admission tests.
Agents have also cheated honest applicants, who are misled into paying for courses at bogus colleges, which are nothing like the places that agents have described.
The British Council says agents have been caught passing off "two-room colleges as prestigious institutions".
Read More the latest BBC report here

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