Colleges That Face a Flood of Bogus Students

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Byline: SARAH HARRIS

RECORD numbers of foreign students are trying to get into British colleges and universities using bogus applications, it was revealed yesterday.

Suspicious applications detected by antifraud watchdogs doubled last year and the number which had to be cancelled due to missing or forged documents rose by 50 per cent.

Investigators at the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service's (Ucas) admitted cases were spiralling and the figure could just be the tip of the iceberg.

The statistics will increase fears that applications are being used as a way for illegal immigrants to sidestep Britain's border controls.

The majority of the bogus cases come from countries such as Nigeria, China, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Ghana.

Some students simply fake qualifications to get on to British degree courses and gain lucrative grants and bursaries.

But there is evidence that growing numbers of organised gangs are targeting universities as a means to secure student visas for those attempting to enter the country illegally.

Once they are arrive, many of those on the visas disappear.

The latest figures from Ucas show that 1,136 applications were cancelled last year because prospective students had provided false or misleading information or were unable to provide genuine documentation.

This compares with 758 in 2004 and just 124 in 2000.

Another 981 were deemed 'suspect' and were investigated by Ucas, compared with 335 in There was a marked increase in the number of fraudulent applications from Nigeria last year, with more than 1,000 suspicious applications to Ucas and to teaching and nursing programmes. …