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UK: Student visa fraud uncovered!

You would like to get a student visa for the UK but do not speak sufficient English? No problem, thanks to bogus documents and an amazingly well subverted student visa system your admission is almost guaranteed. A British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) documentary on student visas has unveiled large-scale fraud, involving language exam centres, UK home office approved colleges, private banks and immigration consultancies, namely Studentway Education and Bright Consultant Services.

As the biggest source of non-EU immigration to the UK, student visas account for approximately 200 000 visas issued yearly. An application and an extension of a student visa, however, requires a proof of English proficiency, an educational back record, a bank statement proving sufficient own resources, as well as a written confirmation from a home office approved college. The BBC Panorama documentary showed how all of these requirements can be met with the necessary extra money. A compulsory English proficiency exam with multiple choice answers provided by the examiner plus an English native speaker taking the oral exam instead of you can be available from GBP 500 onwards. Academic back records come as a real bargain for only GBP 250. And a bank statement proving you have more than you ever dreamt of can be purchased for GBP 250 to GBP 280, depending on whether you want to engage in identity theft or forging an official bank statement. A written confirmation of a home office approved college, however, is a bit more expensive with a price of GBP 2 500, but great discounts are offered for only GBP 1 800.

The fraud scandal has obviously spurred immense outrage. In the case of the English proficiency exams, the UK home office has temporarily suspended all English exams run by Educational Testing Service (ETS) related to immigration purposes. ETS, however, has not been directly involved in the fraud scandal, as the two institutions in questions, Eden College International and Universal Training Centre, were independent examination centres. Eden College International and Universal Training Centre likewise have denied any complicity in and prior knowledge of fraud at its institutions. The UK home office has furthermore suspended Leyton College in East London which has also been involved in the fraud scandal. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) has meanwhile opened investigations concerning the two UK colleges in question

BBC News

Youtube - BBC Panorama documentary

QAA - Press release

Eden College International

Leyton College

Universal Training Centre