Government promises crackdown on immigrant abuse of student visa system
Authorities have conducted a wide-ranging inquiry into the activity of organised criminals to falsify English tests for applicants
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Tuesday 24 June 2014
Almost 50,000 immigrants may have fraudulently obtained English certificates despite being unable to speak the language, the Government has revealed.
James Brokenshire, the Immigration Minister, told the Commons that an inquiry into abuse of the student visa system had uncovered evidence of criminal activity, which would now be investigated fully. He admitted: “It is likely that the true totals will be higher…The Government is not prepared to tolerate this abuse.”
Since February, immigration enforcement officers, the National Crime Agency and officials from UK Visas and Immigration, have conducted a wide-ranging inquiry into actions by organised criminals to falsify English tests for student visa applicants.
An investigation into the European subsidiary of an American firm, Educational Testing Services (ETS), found more than 29,000 invalid test results and more than 19,000 questionable results.
The minister said the “systematic cheating” typically involved invigilators supplying or reading out answers to whole rooms of gangs of imposters allowed to step into the exam candidates' places for the test. A criminal investigation has been launched into the role of ETS Global Ltd, he said.
Mr Brokenshire said much of the “worst abuse” was taking place at London sub-campuses of universities based in other parts of the country.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said much of the 'worst abuse' was taking place at London sub-campuses of universities based in other parts of the country (Getty)
Officers found evidence of “serious concern” at some campuses. The Government has downgraded Glyndwr University in north-east Wales from its status as a “highly-trusted sponsor” of student visas, and 57 private further education colleges have had their licences to admit foreign students suspended. The University of Bedfordshire and University of West London are no longer allowed to sponsor new students pending further investigations.
David Hanson, the shadow Immigration Minister, said: “This new crisis is yet another astounding failure on [Home Secretary] Theresa May's watch. For more than four years she has done nothing while nearly 50,000 people cheated in tests to stay in the country.”
He said the scandal had only come to light after an investigation by the BBC's Panorama programme. “People will be outraged that genuine students who can add to our economy are being turned away while bogus students prosper under this Government,” he said.
A spokesman for Glyndwr University said it was “deeply upset” that its sponsor licence has been suspended. “We have partnerships with a number of suppliers and are incredibly disappointed to have been the subject of any deception or activity that would put that licence under threat,” he said.
- 1 Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
- 3 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 4 How to gain confidence and maximise your sexual potential
- 5 Chinese theme park sets up 'death simulator' where volunteers can experience being cremated
Saudi Arabia's King Salman sacks senior aide for 'slapping' a journalist behind him live on TV
Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...