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UK Border Agency ordered to crack down on bogus student visas

The UKBA must crack down on bogus student visas ahead of the roll-out of its troubled e-Borders program, MPs have urged

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) must crack down on bogus student visas ahead of the roll-out of its troubled e-borders...

programme, MPs have urged.

In 2009, the number of migrants who abused the student route to work rather than study went up by as much as 40,000 to 50,000, as a result of botched planning, according to a report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The e-Borders system for counting all migrants in and out of the UK currently only covers 55% of air flights and will not be fully rolled out until 2015 at the earliest. The programme began in 2007.

“It is not good enough to wait for e-Borders to eventually provide 100% coverage to get robust data,” said the Public Accounts Committee. "The agency should identify and make better use of alternative sources of data until e-Borders provides 100% coverage."

Margaret Hodge, chair of the PAC, said it was extraordinary the UK Border Agency had introduced its new points-based system for students before putting in place proper controls to replace the old ones.

“The result of the agency's poorly planned and ill-thought-out course of action was chaos: an immediate high level of abuse of the new system and a surge in the number of student visas," she said.

As a consequence, the UKBA has created a huge amount of bureaucracy for universities and an increasingly complex system for students to navigate, said Hodge.

The UKBA revoked London Metropolitan University's highly-trusted status for sponsoring international students from outside the EU after it found irregularities in the university's administration of their immigration status and attendance records.

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