New powers aim to expel more bogus students

Almost 5,000 foreign migrants granted visas to study in the UK each year could be refused entry under new powers to weed out bogus students.

Risk-based interviews of up to one in 20 potential international students will be brought in over the next year following a successful pilot scheme, the Home Office said.

UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff will also be given a new power to refuse entry to any applicant whose credibility they doubt, with applicants from India, Bangladesh and Burma expected to be most affected.

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The three-month pilot scheme found 32 per cent of almost 2,000 students from outside the EU who were interviewed and granted a UK visa would have been denied one if UKBA officials had the power to refuse visas, because they suspected the applicant was not a genuine student, the Home Office said.

Almost half (45 per cent) of applicants from Burma would have been refused under the credibility test, along with almost two-fifths (38 per cent) from Bangladesh and almost a third (29 per cent) from India, the pilot scheme which ran from December last year to February found.

Between 10,000 and 14,000 student visa applicants – around 5 per cent of the total – are expected to be interviewed over the next year.

Immigration minister Damian Green said: “With more interviews and greater powers to refuse bogus students we will weed out abuse and protect the UK from those looking to play the system.”