Home secretary Theresa May has announced that extra interviews for students applying for UK visas are due to be introduced next year.
Ms May stated that from as early as next April border staff will question more than 100,000 people in order to identify bogus applications for study.
She claimed that the plans are being put in place in a bid to “root out the abuse” of the student visa route, which it is thought is being used by some as a “backdoor route” to finding work in Britain.
Speaking to the Policy Exchange think tank in London, the home secretary stated: “I can announce that, from today, we will extend radically the Border Agency's interviewing programme. Starting with the highest-risk countries, and focusing on the route to Britain that is widely abused, student visas, we will increase the number of interviews to considerably more than 100,000, starting next financial year.”
She added: “From there, we will extend the interviewing programme further across all routes to Britain, wherever the evidence takes us. I believe this new approach will help us to root out the abuse of British visas, and improve the integrity of our immigration system.”
The announcement comes after a pilot scheme run by the UKBA questioned more than 2,300 prospective students. Ms May said that the pilot scheme revealed that “abuse was rife, paper-based checks weren't working, and interviews, conducted by entry clearance officers with the freedom to use their judgement, work”.
The government's attempts to crackdown on student immigration have been widely criticised due to the value of foreign students to the higher education sector and the economy as a whole. There have also been calls for student numbers to be removed from the overall immigration count because of the temporary nature of their migration.