A recent study has claimed that bogus students accounted for as many as 60,000 UK visas issued in 2011.
Conducted by Migration Watch, the paper looked in depth at the findings of a Home Office pilot scheme. The scheme itself interviewed applicants for student visas to assess whether or not they were genuine students and whether they really intended to return home after their studies.
It was revealed that 69 per cent applications from Burma were likely to be bogus (the highest percentage), followed by Bangladesh, India and Nigeria; each of which had a bogus application rate of 59 per cent.
Migration Watch claimed that when these proportions are applied to the number of applicants from each country in the pilot, the total is in the region of 63,000.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the think tank, commented: "If it is clear from the circumstances that a student is unlikely to go home, the visa should not be granted in the first place. After all, many of the advantages claimed for foreign students depend on their going home after their studies."
Companies employing migrant workers need to be careful to check passports and work permits before hiring an individual. People overstaying their student visas and working illegally are breaking the law but those who hire them are also at risk of substantial fines and legal issues if they fail to take reasonable precautions and carry out the required right-to-employment checks.
The study comes amid the government's ongoing plans to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. There have been calls from business leaders to remove students from these net migration figures in order to support the higher education sector in the UK, although it seems unlikely that the pressures on genuine students will be reduced any time soon.