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UK Government to introduce new accreditation scheme for colleges recruiting Overseas Students | Immigration Matters

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The UK Government will introduce tougher measures for colleges wishing to bring in overseas students under the points based system next year.

In a document entitled “Points Based System: The Accreditation of T4 (Students) Sponsors”, the Border and Immigration Agency will tighten rules and procedures in an effort to thwart bogus colleges.

Main Points:

· Tier 4 (Students) of the points based system will be introduced early 2009.

· Mandatory accreditation for educational establishments bringing in international students.


The Government has announced a mandatory new requirement for educational establishments recruiting international students under the Points Based System (PBS) which is set to be introduced for students early in 2009.

In its Command paper “A Points Based System: Making Migration Work for Britain” published in March last year the Government made it clear that “…for Tier 4 (Students), sponsors will need to demonstrate that they are a bona fide educational institution accredited by a recognised body”.

The announcement confirms what is meant by accreditation and what institutions will need to do in order to qualify as sponsors under Tier 4.

What is accreditation?

In a nutshell, accreditation is a mark of quality which will demonstrate that an educational establishment is genuine and has sound teaching practices, recruitment procedures and progress monitoring of its students.

Border and Immigration Agency staff will check that an institution is a genuine education provider rather than “operating to facilitate the entry of bogus students to the UK”.


  • support sponsorship under the PBS, as entry clearance officers will be able to trust the decisions of individual institutions when issuing certificates of sponsorship to potential students.
  • reduce the need for intelligence-led investigations of suspect institutions: enabling Agency compliance resources to be better targeted in a proactive manner on higher risk employers and institutions.
  • free Agency resources to work with educational institutions to reduce the frequency with which they may be misled by bogus students using them as a means to enter the UK and ensure sponsors’ activities are supporting the integrity of the new system.

Accreditation offers other benefits to institutions, their students and the education sector as a whole. It:

  • should reduce the involvement of immigration officials in the recruitment of foreign students.
  • will help tackle the less reputable institutions that disrupt the otherwise excellent reputation of UK education and; as a result
  • should help attract more international students to UK.

All private education providers will need to be accredited by one of the Agency-approved accreditation bodies before they can qualify for as sponsors.

Ofsted has advised the Home Office which accreditation bodies provide an appropriate test of the bona fides of an educational institution and the following accreditation bodies have now been approved:

Institutions will need to seek accreditation with one of the approved accreditation bodies as early as possible to obtain the requirements and prepare for an inspection.

Immigration Matters Comment

Immigration Matters welcomes any measures which will allow entry clearance officers, as well as prospective students, to clearly identify bona fide educational establishments when considering visa applications.

However, it should be pointed out that there is an existing register for educational institutions run by the DfES and the Home Office already monitors private colleges.

Overseas students currently applying for a visa to study in the UK are already required to meet strict guidelines and be registered with an institution on the DfES register before being granted entry clearance.

Obtaining a student visa is not a formality. You should seek professional advice, from a registered Immigration Adviser, before spending money on course fees and visa application fees.

The 300,000 overseas students currently studying in the UK bring economic benefits of almost £5 billion to the country.

If you have any comments or questions please email Charles Kelly

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