Flows in the new student visa system in UK bring bogus students
The new points-based student visa system in the UK proved to have flows that could have been predicted and avoided, according to Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office (NAO).
The new student system allows students from outside the European Economic Area to study in the UK. It appeared, however, that the UK Border Agency that implemented the new system is more lenient towards students with incorrect visa applications and focuses more on illegal immigrants.
With the previous visa system for non-EEA students, the number of students who could attend college was unlimited. They could also move college freely, without notifying the Agency. The new points-based system – Tier 4 – requires each student to be sponsored only by educational institutions licensed by the Agency. Students now cannot switch colleges without the Agency’s permission. The new system holds the sponsoring colleges responsible for the students’ intentions to stay in the UK.
Tier 4, however, was implemented too soon, before the Agency set a major controlling policy. As a result, NAO calculated that during the first year Tier 4 came into effect, between 40,000 and 50,000 people may have entered the UK to work rather than to study, and the Agency never checked whether these individuals were indeed attending college.
At the moment the Agency still does not take full measures to ensure that people with denied requests for visa extension do actually leave the country.
According to NAO, the Agency introduced new controls and compliance strategy in December 2011 that are expected to reduce the number of bogus students. However, the Agency still needs to establish ways to deal with overstaying students on the points-based student visa.