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JCWI asks: Bogus’ Colleges – what about their Genuine Students? | Immigration Matters

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Finally one of the main migrant groups are taking up the cases of thousands of Tier 4 students who have been left stranded like refugees in a war zone during the UK Border Agency’s relentless student visa crackdown on private colleges.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) writes:

450 colleges had their ‘trusted sponsor’ status revoked in the past year. This affects around 11,000 overseas students. Much is being said in the media about the immigration abuses of student visas, but the coverage forgets the real victims of this headline figure – the students.

Colleges who have their licences revoked are not all ‘bogus’, as the red top papers would have us believe. There’s been a constant scrutiny of such institutions for a number of years now. Colleges denied the chance to recruit international students face financial oblivion, and many close leaving students stranded in the middle of their studies.

I’ve had a couple of meetings with a group of students who have been left high and dry by two main factors. Firstly, they studied at a college run by rip off merchants who were happy to take large amounts of cash in the form of tuition fees, who then filed for bankruptcy. Secondly, they’ve been let down by an immigration system that offers no support or protection to students in this situation.

Academic scrutiny

Immigration law generally limits permission to stay to 60 days if a student’s course ends earlier than expected. As such, this means that a student has 60 days to find another college after their one closes.

Whether a college is licenced to issue Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) certificates  is decided by UKBA on three criteria: the human resource systems of the college, the civil penalties, and criminal convictions of the staff and any non-compliance by the organisation. There is no academic scrutiny of the college and no financial safeguards offered to students who choose to study there.

Perhaps an example best explains the situation.

Zara (not her real name) from Bangladesh came to study in the UK. Like so many students across the world, she was keen to improve her understanding and language skills by studying in another country. She’d seen adverts about London Trinity College, knew about the quality of education in the UK and applied. On the college website, it stated that the institution was a recognised sponsor in the eyes of the UKBA, which she found reassuring. The college was indeed listed on the UKBA website as a sponsor. They issued her with a CAS and was issued with a student visa.


Zara paid fees of £8000 to cover tuition for her ACCA qualification in accounting. But the financial demands weren’t quite so simple. She had to prove to UKBA she had enough money  in her bank account to maintain herself for a year –  £9600 to be precise. Borrowing the money from her parents and a little more from her extended family, she arrived in the UK, found lodgings and started her course in accounting.She was disappointed to find her ‘college’ was set up in a closed down grocery store. But, they taught the course and she thrived as a result of her hard work.

One day Zara turned up to college one day to find it closed. Meeting other students outside they did some quick research and found the college had gone into voluntary liquidation. None of the students were able to get their money back.

On seeking advice Zara and the others discovered that unless they found a college that would accept them within 60 days, paid the fees to the new college and reapplied for a visa, they would be in the country illegally.

Zara and her family could not afford a second set of fees. Additionally, few colleges are willing to accept international students mid-course as they have to use up their valuable CAS allocation for less money than a student studying a full year.

The Government and media stoked hysteria on ‘bogus’ students and ‘bogus’ colleges does wonders for helping to massage the figures on net immigration and appeasing public perceptions on immigration, but it does nothing to help the real victims of the situation – overseas students left in the lurch by colleges and the UKBA.

Financial benefits

Overseas students bring billions of pounds of trade and education revenue to the UK each year. Cuts in funding mean that universities and colleges are more dependent than ever on the fees paid by international students to keep courses open and education provision intact.

A stamp of approval from the UKBA has helped thousands of students decide to study at institutions which have dubious academic track records. Revoking trusted status may stop further abuses in the future – but what about those left in limbo now? Source: JCWI.

The UK Border Agency has implemented significant changes to the Tier 4 student route of the points-based system, which came into effect on 4 July 2011.

The Government implemented major changes to the Immigration Rules relating to Tier 4 students who want to study at private colleges in July.

The changes:

  • restrict work entitlements, by only allowing students sponsored by higher education institutions (HEIs) and publicly funded further education colleges to work part-time during term time and full-time during vacations;
  • restrict sponsorship of dependants to those of students sponsored by HEIs on postgraduate courses lasting 12 months or longer, and of government-sponsored students on courses lasting longer than 6 months;
  • require institutions to confirm that courses represent genuine academic progression from any previous courses studied by the student in the UK; and
  • create a streamlined application process for low-risk nationals sponsored by Highly Trusted sponsors.

The Home Office recently revealed a drop of 11,000 overseas students since tougher measures introduced this year. UK Universities warns that not only is the government’s action damaging Britain’s reputation, but was also responsible for 400 private colleges effectively opting out of the new Tier 4 sponsoring system.

The Universities UK action issued a warning about Britain’s reputation in education after new figures revealed that the government’s curb on overseas students had reduced their numbers by 11,000 and led to more than 450 colleges pulling out of the market, the Guardian reported earlier this month. 

A spokesman for UK University Services (UKUS) said that ‘unfortunately many international students are being deterred from choosing British colleges and universities due to rule changes, the abolition of the PSW post study work visa as well as all the rumours and stories of the bad experience suffered by their fellow countrymen whilst studying in the UK’. 

English UK, an association representing 450 language colleges, demanded an apology from the Home Office claiming their remarks implied institutions were fronts for illegal immigration.

The Home Office has been threatened with legal action amid claims it mistakenly implied that 22 colleges were bogus or sub-standard.

The combination of new UK Border Agency ‘Highly Trusted Sponsor’ regulations introduced this year and the new Tier 4 student visa rules, has increased costs whilst wiping out the market for smaller private education providers – hence the 400 closing their doors or simply opting out of the new Highly Trusted regime.

Last month more than 650 Tasmac College students were left stranded without a college when the University of Wales (UoW) accredited college went bust.

Students affected by the closure of their college should remember that new Tier 4 visa rules apply to students applying to private colleges after 4 July 2011.

Bison UK Immigration Adviser Cynthia Barker said:

‘This means that if you renew your visa for a private college or change college after 4 July 2011, you will not be able to work and you will not be able to sponsor your dependant.’ 

The new rules do not affect Bulgarians and Romanians coming to the UK on Yellow Card registration permits to work and study on vocational courses such as NVQ or QCF courses in Health and Social Care

See also:

New Tier 4 student visa rules now in force

Tackle visa abuse, but not at the cost of genuine students say Universities UK

Student visa crackdown damaging our reputation abroad, Universities UK warns

‘I’ve done nothing wrong’ says bankrupt Tasmac College director to the 650 students who have lost £7500 in fees



New Tier 4 sponsor guidance published for Highly Trusted Sponsorship – will your private college qualify?

Post Study Work Visa to be abolished April 2012 as part of student visa clampdown

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Looking for a Tier 4 college or University or need advice?

UKUS is a free University and College Admissions and advice service based in London, UK. Students interested in studying abroad can complete the Online UKUS Registration Form for more details.

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7 Responses to “JCWI asks: Bogus’ Colleges – what about their Genuine Students?”
Read them below or add one

  1. Campaign? One or two articles are all very well but hardly constitues a campaign. International students and colleges have been hammered for the 2 years while the JCWI and other established migrant organisations remained largely silent. As far as I can see the JCWI has published very little on the plight of Tier 4 students which Immigration Matters has, as you put it, ‘highlighted’. JCWI were also credited as the source.

    How many Immigration Matters articles has the JCWI ‘highlighted’?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the JCWI has shown scant interest in this area, despite hundreds of thousands of students being affected and hundreds of colleges going out of business.

    Let’s be honest here. Your so called ‘campaign’ is ‘too little too late’ for thousands of students.

    What has the JCWI said about the 4 July rule changes which are clearly discrimanatory against Tier 4 students who wish to study at private colleges?

    What has the JCW said about the ‘three year rule’?

    Sorry if this is not ‘polite’ enough for you, but frankly Tier 4 students who have lost thousands of pounds are not really interested in polite articles.

  2. Thank you for highlighting our campaign for a fairer deal for international students.
    I do think that instead of quoting our blog quite so heavily, the polite thing to do would be to quote us a little and provide a link to our site where readers can see all the other campaigns, case notes and articles we produce.
    Thank you very much.

  3. Not sure what they are trying to do?

  4. meanie mendiola says :

    Dear Mr kelly charles,
    I just i want to know only from you about LAW to way the payment for the school,i just start may school in 26 sept.2011 then that time they want me to pay may next year tuation fee but i pay fully piad for the 1year tuation fee but they want me to start to pay again for the next year but i don’t yet finish my school these so i want to know if these is right and also the way we talking they are not good,pls let me know what is the right and also it’s possible i can’t transfer next year to the other school? i just finish only my first year there that is possible that i can do pls help me to answer my question,but they give me 2year student visa……thank you very much to send me always new NEWS or info about the in UK….GOD BLESS.

  5. Thank you for your comments.
    In fact if you look at the UK economy over the last few years it was growing during the period when migrants could come here on work permits and students could stay on after completing their degrees. Is it by coincidence that the UK economy has slowed at the same time immigration and student visas have been restricted?

  6. arnulfo ching says :

    Dear Mr Charles Kelly,
    I absolutely agreed with your article titled:JCWI asks: Bogus’ Colleges – what about their Genuine Students?

    Because in reality, that the UK Gov’t. economy would not have the most number of percent survival in the global recession if not because of the International Students or what they called Migrants of which they continuously cutting and restricting even more and unfairly treated to topple out from UK. They are just trying to be smart gov’t without providing support to students who were victims of their fellow English provider of colleges who just make money abusing their law on liquidation by taking the money of thousands of int’l students without support of getting their money back and gov’t assistance to refer them directly to the right colleges to continue being a genuine students… I ask and calling the attention of the most highest UK government for the sake of humanitarian spirit and to the real statute of law to grant relief to thousands of students who were victimised of self declared college providers bankruptcy/liquitation/ administration who were also an obvious manipulator of their law. I hope you’ll understand what i wis to convey and tis could reach the attention of the highest Uk government apart from the UKBA.

    I, myself was a victim many times in my desire and dream of having studied and gain UK qualifications.

  7. cherry says :

    Dear Sirs,

    There is no problem if a student is really genuine student, even new rules are implemented, why would the student get in panic if they come to UK as a genuine student.Then just fix your papers period.The only one panicking are those bogus student.So I dont understand why student visa is an issue. If you really want to come to UK to study, fix your papers then after your study is finished, then pack your things in go home period.I just dont know why immigration still cant identify bogus and genuine students. Are they playing dumb because of maoney or they are really dumb.

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