The nonsensical world of Mr Brokenshire from the go-home office

Brokenshire

UK Further and Higher Education is once again bearing the brunt of the government’s ill-informed anti-immigration policies.

On Tuesday Immigration Minister James Brokenshire made a statement to the House of Commons, announcing that the highly trusted sponsor status of 60 educational establishments had been suspended following a “detailed and wide-ranging investigation into actions by organised criminals to falsify English language tests for student visa applicants”.

There can be no doubt that the tough-sounding announcement and the suspensions are intended to impress Mr Brokenshire’s boss Theresa May and create a ‘good news’ story for the immigration-obsessed mass media, and actually has little to do with a genuine attempt at a criminal investigation.

While one college was shown to be complicit in assisting in-country immigrants to pass visa-approved language tests, in a Panorama exposé broadcast earlier this year, the announcement of these suspensions is a huge over-reaction. Cheating in any test should be dealt with and the guilty parties should pay the price, but once again the exam provider, language schools, colleges, universities and the whole sector is grouped together in ‘immigration scam’ headlines.

(It will be interesting to see how the government reacts when students are (inevitably) caught cheating on IELTS tests, a product that the British government (and therefore the UK taxpayer) actually part owns! Surely a conflict of interest there, when the government is supposed to regulate foreign student recruitment and the language tests the students take…but has a dog in the race.)

Mr. Brokenshire demonstrated his understanding of the student recruitment process in March when he told the Demos thinktank: “I’m sorry, but is it really unreasonable to require universities to ensure students are genuine? After all, they would hardly admit a British student without checking their A-level results.”

There is no question that the checking of students’ qualifications is the education provider’s responsibility when deciding on places to study, but unlike British A-level students, international students have to go through an often humiliating visa application process (for example proving parents’ source of funds, providing pay slips, and being cross-examined about their study choices) that is nothing at all to do with the education provider.

If the government’s Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) is not satisfied that a student’s parents’ income is fully accounted for, or decides that the student should learn English in a local school rather than one in the UK, the decision is a visa refusal.

Despite the clear fact that visa refusals are out of the control or influence of UK education providers, Mr. Brokenshire wants to hold them responsible for Home Office civil servant’s decisions: He aims to reduce the proportion of visa refusals that educational institutions are allowed, from 20% to 10%.

To those in the know, this all seems nonsensical, because it is utter nonsense. Sadly, the home office only cares about the headlines that will greet any ‘tough’ measure on ‘immigration’, despite the fact that international students (with plenty of international options) are only temporary residents, and are no threat to the low skilled jobs that are supposedly at risk from internal EU immigration.

Meanwhile, Mr. Brokenshire applauds the fact that student visa applications have fallen by 29% since 2010, and will no doubt continue to fall. Fewer international students, of course, means less income for an important sector of Britain’s economy, less foreign currency being converted and spent in the UK, less revenue for UK universities, and so higher tuition fees for UK students in the very near future.

 

Universities / colleges whose HTS status has been suspended:

University of Bedfordshire

Glyndwr University

LSBF (London School of Business and Finance)

University of West London

Alpha College

Alpha Meridian College

APS Computer Solutions TA Pitman Training Centre

Birmingham Institute of Education Training and Technology

Blake Hall College

Bloomsbury International UK

Bradford College of Management

Bradford Metropolitan College

Bristol College of Accountancy

Britain College

Central College London

Central College of Studies

Central Cranbrook College

Citizen 2000 Education Institute

City of London Academy

College of Advanced Studies

College of East London

College of Excellence

Cranford College

Essex College

Eynsford College

FBT (Finance Business Training)

Forbes Graduate School

Hammersmith Management College

Helios International College

IIM Bedford

Interlink College of Technology & Business Studies

Katherine & Kings College of London

Kinnaird College

LIT LON Ltd

London Academy of Management and Business

London College of Business Management and Computing Studies

London College of Finance and Accounting

London Corporate College

London Educators Ltd

London Premier College

London Regal College

London School of Advanced Studies

London School of Marketing t/a LS Business School

London School of Technology

London St Andrews College

Manchester College of Management Sciences

Manchester International College (International Learning Centre)

Manchester Trinity

Midlands Academy of Business and Technology

North West College Reading

Queensbury College

Shakespeare College

South London College

Stanfords College UK Ltd

Studio Cambridge

Superior College London

UK Business Academy

UK Vocational Training College t/a UK CAT

West George College

West London Business College

 

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