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Parliament investigates bogus colleges

Foreign nationals allegedly entered the UK through a network of sham colleges
25th May 2009: The UK Border Agency is investigating allegations of foreign nationals having entered the United Kingdom as students through a network of sham colleges. Any institute found abusing the immigration system will be proceeded against.

Reacting to such claims in the Times newspaper, Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: “I take any allegations of fraud incredibly seriously. The information provided by the Times has been passed on to the UK Border Agency, which is investigating”.

Mr. Woolas added: “This alleged fraud took place under the old system; and highlights exactly why I have brought forward changes which crack down on abuse of the student route into the UK.

"The UK Border Agency is systematically vetting colleges to clamp down on abuse of the rules. Before we tightened controls, around 4,000 UK institutions were bringing in international students; this currently stands at around 1,500. We will act swiftly where there is credible evidence of organised abuse of the immigration system by any college – registered as a sponsor or not”.

Mr. Woolas further asserted: “We have introduced tougher checks on overseas students as well as on colleges. All students applying for a visa are now fingerprinted and checked against a range of security and immigration watch lists, with expert teams abroad providing additional checks and support at high-risk posts, such as Pakistan.”

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