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Student Visas

Volume 520: debated on Monday 6 December 2010

As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced in her statement to Parliament on 23 November, the Government will shortly launch a public consultation on proposed changes to the student visa arrangements. The proposals will result in a more selective system, and will reduce the numbers to support our aim of reducing net migration to sustainable levels.

I commend my hon. Friend on the public consultation and subsequent review, but may I press him to ensure that the terms of reference will be broad enough to enable us to address the underlying causes of abuse, particularly bogus colleges?

I am more than happy to give my hon. Friend that assurance, because it is an extremely important point. I hope he will be encouraged to learn that since the Government came to office in May, we have revoked 24 tier 4 sponsor licences for bogus colleges, 40% more than the number revoked by the last Government. We have also discovered by researching the figures that in some sectors of the education world—especially private sector further education colleges—26% of students are not complying with the visas with which they entered the country. That means that tens of thousands of students are breaking the rules in some way each year. That is simply unacceptable, and we will deal with it.