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University loses foreign student status

Published date: 25 June 2014 |
Published by: Jonathan Grieve
Read more articles by Jonathan Grieve


 

MORE than 200 international students whose visas were sponsored by Glyndwr University entered the UK with phoney English language tests.

The university has been told it can no longer enrol non-EU international students after a UK Government crackdown on the falsified English qualifications.

The Wrexham-based institution, which also has campuses in Northop, St Asaph and London, has had its Highly Trusted Sponsor status suspended after 230 students which it sponsored were identified as having invalid test results.

Including questionable results, the figure rises to 350.

The English tests were provided by the Educational Testing Services, which were exposed for systematic cheating by a BBC documentary and have since been removed from a list of approved providers of English tests needed to get into the country.

The suspect tests related to Glyndwr’s Elephant and Castle campus in London, which is run in partnership with the London School of Business and Finance.

But the suspension prevents the university from taking on non-EU students at any of their campuses across the UK, including Wrexham.

Students already enrolled will not be affected by the measures, while the university is still able to take on students from EU member states.

Yesterday a university spokesman said it was “deeply upset” at the suspension and said it was “frustrated” to have been put in the position “by external partners”.

A spokesman said the university was working closely with UK immigration officers to improve operations at its London campus.

Speaking before the House of Commons yesterday, immigration minister James Brokenshire MP said the suspension was the result of a “detailed and wide-ranging investigation into actions by organised criminals to falsify English language tests for student visa applicants”.

And Mr Brokenshire warned the true totals would likely be higher than the 29,000 invalid results and 19,000 questionable results identified nationwide so far.

The move follows a BBC Panorama expose in February which revealed systematic cheating in tests run by Educational Testing Services.

The falsified results allowed students to be approved for student visas they otherwise would not have been eligible for.

A Glyndwr University spokesman said: “The university is deeply upset that its sponsor licence has been suspended by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and is working with them to investigate the issues raised.

“We have partnerships with a number of suppliers and are incredibly disappointed to have been the subject of any deception or activity that would put that licence under threat.

“To be put in this position by external partners is frustrating as Glyndwr University takes its responsibility as a highly trusted sponsor very seriously and is committed to supporting the continuing education of those genuine international students who demonstrate full compliance with their immigration requirements.

“The university has been working closely with UKVI in a bid to improve its operations at the Elephant and Castle campus and will continue to do so.

“A new investigation team has been set-up and will respond to the points raised so that this issue can be resolved and the university’s licence reinstated.”

Reacting to the news, Aled Roberts AM, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Minister, said: “This news is very concerning. International students make an indispensible contribution to our society, but we need to ensure full confidence and faith in any student visa system and deal with any abuse swiftly.

“I’m worried about the effect this announcement could have on Glyndwr University’s attempts to improve their financial footing.

“Many universities rely heavily on income from international students.

“This situation needs to be monitored by the Welsh Government and Higher Education Funding Council for Wales to ensure Glyndwr is able to grow and thrive in the future.”

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