Just a short update on my correspondence with government about ‘bogus colleges’. I say ‘with’, but really it’s my correspondence at government, as they’re not really keen on replying.
Previously I have explained my pedantic concern that government has taken an ill-defined term such as ‘bogus college’, and given it a number. There exists a continuum of places from the downright illegal (really – prosecutions ought to have been pursued) through the not very good, the unfortunate and, finally, a group who were on the wrong bit of the register and came off. The outcome of all these different positions is that providers have been removed from the Tier 4 register of sponsors. The number is simply those who have come off, minus a few who appealed and went back on. Ministers insist on calling all of these ‘bogus colleges’.
So, when the latest net migration figures came out, James Brokenshire listed the measures that the government had taken. He was quoted as saying:
“We have slashed student fraud, struck off nearly 900 bogus colleges, and toughened access to welfare and housing. But with nearly 100,000 non-EU students remaining in the UK at the end of their courses and British business still overly reliant on foreign workers in a number of sectors, there is much more to do.”
Nearly 900 bogus colleges and they’ve been ‘struck off’ – not that they’ve left the register because it didn’t suit them, or that they’ve changed business title. Naturally, I’ve written in to the Home Office for the list of the ‘nearly 900’.
I’d written to Jo Johnson at BIS about the ‘bogus colleges’ number, but as I’d not heard back, I thought I’d test out their assumption. Clearly ministers believe everyone who is removed (or struck off) from the register is a ‘bogus college’ (that’s the government’s logic – I refute that). Johnson has explained that the government was protecting international students from such ‘rogue providers and dodgy operators’. I’ve written to ask what happens to London School of Business & Finance now. LSBF was removed from the Register on 1 September. As LSBF are now counted among the ‘rogue providers and dodgy operators’ does that impact on the designation of their courses for student loans? It probably doesn’t as St Patrick’s has had its licence revoked since April, but remains designated.
The point is, I think, that you can be removed from UKVI’s sponsor list and not be a ‘bogus college’. In which case, ministers really need to stop quoting that number.