To ask Her Majesty's Government which body inspects private colleges listed as student visa sponsors on the UK Border Agency tier 4 register; what percentage of colleges inspected have been suspended; for what reasons; and when they expect every accredited college to have been inspected. [HL1652]
Education providers subject to public reviews (state schools, universities etc) do not require accreditation to enable them to apply for a sponsor licence.
Private higher education institutions must hold valid accreditation from one of the following bodies before they can successfully apply for a licence:
Accreditation UK—a British Council scheme that offers an accreditation service for English language schools;
the British Accreditation Council (BAC), which offers a more general accreditation service to cover a wide range of different education providers and their courses;
the Accreditation Service for International Colleges (ASIC), which also offers a general accreditation service to cover a wide range of different educational establishments and their courses;
the Accreditation Body for Language Services Ltd which offers accreditation for English Language schools; and
the Church of England—Ministry Division, which offers a quality assurance and accreditation service for institutions offering training for Christian ministry in the participating churches.
As of 1 February 2010, tier 4 sponsor licences for 7 per cent of education providers had been suspended pending further investigation. We are unable to disclose the reasons for suspension as investigations are ongoing.
The UK Border Agency has visited every educational establishment holding a tier 4 licence. These visits are part of a continuous rolling programme and a large proportion will be visited again within then next 12 months.
Between 1 April and 31 December 2009, 1,530* students were studying at a college whose licence was subsequently revoked, and 27,715* were studying at a college whose licence was subsequently suspended.
Colleges whose tier 4 sponsor is suspended are not able to issue a visa letter or confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) to new students. UKBA will also suspend consideration of any in-country applications for students to move to that college. Student, who are not involved in the reason why the sponsors licence was revoked have their stay in the UK limited to 60 days to enable them to apply for permission to stay with another approved education provider, if they wish to remain in the UK. They also have the option voluntarily to depart the UK during this time.
* The figures quoted are provisional and have been rounded to the nearest five. They are derived from local management information and are not provided under national statistics protocols.