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UK revokes licences at 16 private colleges

The UK government has revoked the licences of 16 private colleges in its investigation into immigration fraud launched in June. The institutions were among 57 centres to have their licences suspended by the Home Office after the government concluded some 45,000 immigrants may have fraudulently obtained English language test certificates.

The Principal at Queensbury College has denied allegations of fraud saying the Home Office has an agenda

In an updated Fact Sheet, the Home Office has said licences are revoked when the institutions “pose a threat to immigration control” or do not “fulfill their sponsorship responsibilities.”

As UK Visas and Immigration continues to conduct both announced and unannounced visits as part of its investigation more licences are likely to be suspended or revoked

“All colleges must take their immigration responsibilities seriously and ensure that students are complying with the rules,” a Home Office spokesperson said. “If a college addresses the serious concerns we have identified, they may get their licence back; if not, we reserve the right to revoke it permanently.”

Geoffrey Alderman, Principal at London-based Queensbury College, one of the institutions to have their licences revoked, has said the directors will seek legal advice on the situation adding that the allegations of non-compliance are false.

“We presented a formidable representation to the Home Office pointing out their mistakes and the mistakes of fact and interpretation that their compliance officers made and the Home Office have ignored it,” he told The PIE News.

“They have gone ahead with what is clearly a political decision because the Home Office can only contract net immigration in this country by clamping down on higher education and tier 4 visas and we will have to deal with the aftermath of this.

“We were inspected by the QAA and given a clean bill of health. The compliance officers came in with an agenda set by Teresa May and James Brokenshire. We’re the fall guys here,” he added.

Some 900 non-EU students will be affected by the decision at Queensbury College. “We will support them as we have been doing as much as we can,” commented Alderman.

“They have gone ahead with what is clearly a political decision because the Home Office can only contract net immigration in this country by clamping down on higher education”

In addition to the 16 institutions to have their licences revoked, Britain College and Bradford College of Management have surrendered their rights to recruit international students.

As UK Visas and Immigration continues to conduct both announced and unannounced visits as part of its investigation, more licences are likely to be suspended or revoked.

Pat Saini, Partner and Head of Immigration at Penningtons Manches LLP warned that as the Home Office grapples with the ETS situation “sponsors need to ensure that their students, who are currently overseas, are provided enough guidance and support to ensure that they are allowed back into the UK to commence their studies”.

Earlier this month, the University of Bedfordshire had its Highly Trusted Sponsor status restored after its CAS allocation reduced to zero (a lower sanction), however the two other universities, University of West London and Glyndwr University remain on the list of suspended operators.

Meanwhile, Studio Cambridge has recently had its licence reinstated only after enlisting the help of MP Julian Huppert and operators say at considerable cost to their brand.

“We are, of course, pleased to be exonerated,” Malcolm Mottram, Managing Director said. “However, we are disappointed that the UKVI publically suspended our licence, causing us considerable reputational damage, without any allegation being made or evidence offered.”

The private colleges to have their licences revoked are:

1. Alpha Meridian College
2. Birmingham Institute of Education Training&Technology
3. Bradford Metropolitan College
4. College of Excellence Limited
5. Eynsford College
6. Hammersmith Management College
7. Katherine and King’s College of London
8. Kinnaird College
9. London School of Technology
10. Midlands Academy of Business and Technology
11. Queensbury College
12. Shakespeare College
13. Stanfords College UK Ltd
14. Superior College London
15. UK Business Academy
16. West London Business College

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