The principal of a Hereford college which has had its licence to enrol foreign students revoked has insisted the ban is down to an “administrative oversight”.
Herefordshire College of Technology is one of more than 450 colleges which have been banned from bringing international students into the UK under Government plans to crack down on abuse of the immigration system.
The colleges, which either failed to sign up to the new inspection system or had their licences revoked, could have brought more than 11,000 international students into the UK each year, the Home Office said.
But Ian Peake, principal of Herefordshire College of Technology, said the college’s licence, which was for up to six non-EU six students, was revoked after the further education college missed a deadline to have it renewed.
He added that only one non-EU student was currently enrolled at the college.
He said: “In order to sponsor a student to study in the UK who is from outside the EU, the college needs a licence from the UK Border Agency.
“We had a licence for up to six non-EU students. Our licence has been revoked because we have failed to reapply by the October 9 deadline. That was an administrative oversight and we are in the process of submitting an application to have our licence renewed.
“We fully expect our licence to renewed within 28 days.
In the case of other colleges which had their licences revoked, some could not produce any records of student attendance, others failed to show they checked student qualifications and another could not even produce a list of students enrolled or a timetable of classes.
Immigration minister Damian Green said widespread abuse of the student visa system, the most common way for migrants from outside the EU to get into the UK, had gone on for too long.
“The changes we have made are beginning to bite,” Mr Green said. “Too many institutions were offering international students an immigration service rather than an education and too many students have come to the UK with the aim of getting work and bringing over family members.
“Only first-class education providers should be given licences to sponsor international students. We have curbed the opportunities to work during study and bring in family members. We have also introduced new language requirements to ensure we only attract genuine students whose primary motivation is to study.”
More than 400 colleges lost their right to recruit international students after they failed to sign up for the new inspection system, the figures showed. A sharp spike in student visa applications from south Asia just before the English language requirement rules were tightened prompted an investigation into 119 colleges, the UK Border Agency said.
Of these, 51 had their licences revoked, three had licences suspended and nine were re-rated. A total of 11 are subject to further considerations and 45 were found to be compliant.