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Bogus Students

Volume 577: debated on Monday 10 March 2014

5. How many sponsor notifications of potentially bogus higher education students there have been since 2010; and how many have been actioned to date. (902907)

UK Visas and Immigration received 315,598 notifications between 2010 and 2013 from all Tier 4 sponsors, of which 299,586 were actioned in the same period. All notifications receive an initial consideration within 28 days of receipt.

May I wish the Minister well in his new post? The issue of bogus students figured strongly in his recent Demos speech, even if it did not get quite the same prominence in the press. Of the backlog of 153,000 notifications that the chief inspector has identified, how many have now been attended to? When I next ask him this question, will that backlog figure have gone up or come down?

As I said, all notifications received from sponsors receive an initial consideration within 28 days of receipt. Notifications can be for a number of different reasons, whether that is failure to enrol or whether there is something serious that may mean students, or their dependants, have their leave curtailed. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I am looking closely at sponsorship and whether the thresholds for sponsors on the failure rates for students that they put forward, are appropriate. I assure him that I am looking very closely at this issue.

My hon. Friend will be aware that net movements of students are the largest non-EU contributor to net inflow. Will he look beyond bogus students and ask whether, at a time when we have very high levels of graduate unemployment, it is right that there is an automatic right to remain for someone who graduates here and gets a job?

Our focus is on attracting the brightest and the best. It is important to note that applications for visas from outside the EU to universities have gone up by 7%. My hon. Friend will know that requirements and rules are in place to restrict how students can stay on—university graduates can stay if they get a graduate job earning £20,300, and there are certain other requirements—but we keep them under review.