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Private colleges’ body warns immigration authorities of legal action

UKBA asked to postpone highly trusted scheme

25th March 2010: A month after Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced tough measures for weeding out the bogus students — including restricting the lowest-level courses to only the most trusted institutions —a group representing private colleges has warned the immigration authorities of legal action.

A membership organisation for private colleges Study UK, and English UK —which runs English language schools — described the new system as unfair. They claimed private bodies would be viewed as less competent. As a result, they would suffer financial losses.

Urging UKBA to postpone the introduction of the highly trusted scheme, Study UK said otherwise the authorities concerned would face a judicial review on the grounds its actions are unreasonable.

English UK also warned the authorities of a judicial review over proposed changes to requirements regarding would-be students’ English-language skills.

Johnson had earlier made it clear that from 6 April only colleges deemed "highly trusted" may recruit foreign students to "level-three" and sub-degree courses including work placements.

The Home Secretary was of the view that these courses were "attractive to economic migrants" and should only be offered by institutions with "a strong record of student compliance".

Subsequently, the UK Border Agency publicly funded institutions would automatically count as highly trusted. The UKBA also announced the development of a rapid but rigorous system to allow private colleges to gain the same status.

The measures were announced during the unveiling of details of the points system for those wishing to earn British Citizenship from next year

Announcing points system, Johnson said from 2011, they will put the mechanisms in place that will ensure that people who are allowed to become citizens have earned their right to stay here.

They would do this using a points test, giving them the ability to take clear, enforceable decisions about who should be allowed to stay permanently, with the flexibility to raise or lower the threshold for citizenship, depending on the current interests of the country and economy, he said.

Johnson added the points-based system was introduced to provide a rigorous system to manage legitimate access to the UK to work and study, with the ability to respond to changing circumstances.

They want foreign students to come here to study, not to work illegally, and they have set out necessary steps which will maintain the robustness of the system they introduced last year.

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