In light of the recent news that yet another NVQ college has gone out of business, I have put together seven tips or steps to help international students left stranded without an approved educational provider.
Since NVQ provider Precision Training UK closed dozens of students have contacted me for advice. All have lost money and wasted time at Precision, and all risk losing their visas through no fault of their own.
It reminds me of the time lat year when Affinity Training collapsed leaving thousands of students ‘high and dry’. We were able to assist many of those victims and our team of professional immigration advisers helped some of them obtain visa extensions at a time when they had no proof of studies or portfolios.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF PRECISION OR ANOTHER BANKRUPT COLLEGE?
As a student on a student visa, you must be in ‘full time study in order to comply with your visa conditions.
If your college has ceased to exist or is not providing you with full time study, you should register with another training provider, which is on the Government-approved Tier 4 Sponsors Register.
I am an OISC regisitered qualified Immigration Adviser and Centre Manager of Tier 4 registered NVQ provider <a href=”http://www.majesticcollege.org/” rel=”nofollow”>Majestic College </a>. Working with Bison UK, I have helped thousands of overseas students and Work Permit holders over the last 10 years. Before you enrol with another college take time to read the following steps, which could help you if your college fails. Here are my:
7 STEPS FOR STUDENTS OF FAILED COLLEGES:
STEP 1 – MAKE SURE THE COLLEGE IS ON THE UK BORDER SPONSORS REGISTER
The first step is to make sure the college is on the official UK Border Agency Tier 4 Sponsors Register, which you can check yourself by going to the UK Border website at: – http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/employersandsponsors/pointsbasedsystem/registerofsponsorseducation.
If the provider is not on the register, do not enrol, even if they are in the process of applying.
At a recent sponsor’s workshop, the UK Border Agency advised that international students on visas should only enrol with educational providers which appear on the Government-approved list. I cannot put it any clearer than that.
STEP 2 – CARRY OUT YOUR OWN ‘DUE DILIGENCE’ AND CHECKS
Do not just rely on the fact that the company is on the sponsors register. The UK Border Agency have approved and placed many colleges on the register which have later gone out of business.
No regulator can monitor a company 24 hours a day or check whether they have filed accounts or paid their bills. Look what happened to the banks!
The UK Border Agency carry out checks before a college is approved, in some cases without an immediate visit, and may not see the college again for another year.
You must carry out your own ‘due diligence’ and satisfy yourself that a college is sound and trustworthy.
One easy way of checking out any UK registered limited company is to carry out a free Companies House WebCheck on the official companies register at: http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk/41aa73ba7639ea6c7f306b71541cf968/wcframe?name=accessCompanyInfo
This simple check, which you can do from anywhere in the world, will reveal whether or not the company, or corporation, exists, when it was formed and if it is still in business or ‘Dissolved’. It will also tell you when they filed their last accounts and if their return is overdue.
For instance, a quick check on Precision Training UK Limited reveals their status as:
“Active – Proposal to Strike off”, which means they are about to be struck off and will cease to exist – finished.
The WebCheck also shows that the company has:
“No Accounts Filed” and their Annual Return is “Overdue”. Not a good sign.
Other ways of verifying a college or business are to purchase a credit check from the many credit referencing agencies. You can also talk to the awarding and accreditation body or the regulator.
But the best way to check out a college is by good old fashioned ‘word of mouth’ – by asking around!
You should also ask the college if you can talk to existing students before parting with your money. They should be happy to let you talk to students.
By asking around and doing your own investigations and detective work you’ll be amazed at what you can find out.
STEP 3 – VISIT THE PREMISES
This is a ‘no brainer’ and yet is neglected by so many people in this internet age. The best way is to drop in unannounced and see what’s going on.
Are the staff friendly and helpful?
Are there any students on the premises and is any training actually taking place?
Does the building and its surroundings look safe?
Most important, how does it ‘feel’, what’s the atmosphere like? Is there ‘life’, or does the place resemble a ‘morgue’?
After all, this is going to be your ‘home’ for a long time so you’d better make sure you feel comfortable before enrolling.
STEP 4 – CHECK TUITION FEES
Are the fees published and are they transparent? How are the fees charged? For instance, do they charge the same fees for local students and international students?
And does the college require a large upfront payment or will they allow you to pay by monthly instalments?
Beware of signing heavy binding contracts which tie you into long term agreements and make it extremely difficult to leave the college. You are entering into an educational arrangement, not a marriage!
STEP 6 – MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR NVQ EVIDENCE AND PORTFOLIO
When Affinity went bust last year hundreds of student lost their work and portfolios. They had nothing to show for their hard work and, importantly, no evidence of ‘satisfactory academic progress’ to show the Home Office when renewing their visas.
In some cases your portfolio will be with the college or assessor awaiting verification, which is perfectly normal. But where a college has gone out of business you may have to track down your assessor and do some digging to retrieve your work. The best way to avoid problems is to keep copies of your work.
If you cannot get hold of your portfolio, don’t panic. Talk to your new college and assessor and they will advise you on how to achieve your NVQ award.
STEP 6 – IF IN DOUBT, CONSULT YOUR IMMIGRATION ADVISER
Obviously, as an International Student, you must comply with the immigration rules.
A lot of students and their employers panic and worry when changing training providers or courses. Some employers recommend local training providers which may not be approved to recruit international students.
Do not depend on advice from well-meaning friends, relatives, employers or colleges unless they are authorised to give immigration advice. In most cases they give incorrect advice because they not aware of the rules.
Your immigration adviser can help you with UK Border Agency and visa requirements.
STEP 7 – DON’T SIT THERE WORRYING, TAKE ACTION!
Finally, whatever you do, don’t hide or bury your head in the sand. Take action, do your research and find another college. There’s little point in crying over the money you’ve lost, because the chances are that, like Affinity victims, you are unlikely to get a penny back. Go out and earn some more money and move on with your life.
As both an Immigration Adviser and Manager of Majestic College, (a UK Border Agency registered NVQ college), I am in a unique position to help victims of failed colleges.
My team and I are offering free consultations to any victims of Precision or other colleges which have let them down or taken money from them without providing any training.
Come and talk to us – Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm and we will try to help and advise you.
I give my personal promise that we will be as “flexible as possible” on initial fees for students who have lost money with Precision or other failed providers.
Drop in visitors welcome – no appointment needed!
If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: