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Student visa fraud – a major concern

Being one of the top-5 destinations of international students around the globe has its price. So come to prove recent experiences in Australia and the UK.

Britain has, not so long ago, tightened its visa regulations in order to prevent bogus students from entering the country (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, November 2008 edition). However, problems have not completely disappeared. At the beginning of February, the UK Border Agency stopped giving student visas (Tier 4) at its offices in Delhi, Punjab, Bangladesh and Nepal. This comes after a period where the number of Tier 4 applications steeply increased by 750 percent compared to the same period last year. This unusually high number of applications raised concerns of fraud, and hence the reaction of UKBA. While the measure is understandable, UKBA seems determined to act fast and collaborates with Universities UK over the matter, to speed up the process for visa applications already in the pipeline. In parallel, UKBA launched a new comprehensive five-year immigration strategy on 22 February.

In the other hemisphere, visa fraud seems even more serious business. A recent report for the Immigration Department discloses the infiltration of organised crime into Australia’s international education system. The report shows that, contrary to the past, when the main target of false applications of foreign ‘students’ were private colleges and the vocational education sector, trends started reversing last year. 40 percent of detected fraud on student visas was targeted at universities. Nevertheless, the report suggests that the Department of Immigration is handling the matter effectively.