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Visas

House of Lords written question – answered on 2nd November 2011.

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Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird UUP

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make recognition of those companies which accredit private colleges in order to issue confirmations of acceptance for studies (CAS) for visa purposes dependent on their taking account of CAS issue and visa propriety in their accreditation regimes.

Photo of Lord Henley Lord Henley The Minister of State, Home Department

As announced by the Home Secretary on 22 March this year, all education providers wishing to sponsor international students through tier 4 of the points-based system now need to meet new educational oversight requirements by being inspected, audited or reviewed by one of the eight publicly recognised bodies. They must also meet more rigorous immigration compliance requirements by becoming highly trusted sponsors (HTS).

The introduction of a new system of robust educational oversight, by the bodies that already have a statutory role in the inspection of educational provision in the UK, replaces the previous accreditation regime by membership-based organisations. The rationale for this was the widespread evidence that the previous regime proved inadequate in tackling the low standards of educational provision and abuse of the immigration system encountered in the privately funded sector.

The two requirements on sponsors (to meet minimum immigration compliance and educational oversight standards) are assessed separately due to the expertise and resource particular to each organisation. As the experts in immigration control, the UK Border Agency assesses immigration compliance (such as the usage of CAS or student compliance with the terms of their visa) through the sponsorship system (which now requires all sponsors to become HTS). As the education specialists, the educational oversight bodies (and formerly the five private accreditation bodies) inspect/review educational standards.

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