One in four English language colleges has turned out to be a front for illegal entry to Britain, a Home Office investigation has found.
A further 25 per cent visited by immigration officials are said to need further investigation to check whether they are genuine.
Most of the bogus colleges identified are in London, suggesting that more may be uncovered when the investigation—due to last until December—is widened.
Officials have assessed 1,050 education institutions and more than 25 per cent have been bogus, according to Des Browne, the Home Office minister. Another 150 have still to be visited.
“We are working closely with the English language sector to move towards comprehensive accreditation of all private English language schools taking students,” he said.
The Government has already announced measures to deal with the scam, including a register of colleges offering legitimate courses.
Visas to enter Britain will be refused to applicants proposing to study at a college not on the register.
The register will be operated by the education department, which wants to keep bureaucracy to a minimum. Colleges will have to prove they are genuine, and will face spot checks by immigration officials if there is any doubt.
Embassies will also be expected to alert the immigration department to possible fraud or abuse.