Border Agency slammed for big flaws in student system

Julian Harris
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THE UK Border Agency was slammed by the government’s watchdog this morning, over its implementation of new rules on foreign students coming to Britain.

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee of public accounts, said: “This is one of the most shocking reports of poor management leading to abuse that I have seen.”

Before 2009, students from outside the European Economic Area could switch colleges and study on different courses without having to inform the government’s Border Agency.

Yet since 2009, students have had to be sponsored by a licensed college and could not switch without applying to the agency.

Enforcement of new measures, known as Tier 4, has been riddled with “flaws which were predictable and could have been avoided”, the National Audit Office (NAO) said.

NAO chief Amyas Morse said: “The [Border] Agency regards students who do not comply with their visa conditions as a low priority compared with illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers.”

The agency “does little to ensure that people leave the UK when their visa extension requests have been refused,” the report added.