Guardian Article: Private colleges are being sacrificed to please the anti-immigration lobby (13 March 2012)

High fees plus the prohibition of any part-time working by international students at private colleges have ensured the dramatic contraction of the industry, says Geoffrey Alderman.

A year ago the UK Border Agency (UKBA) implemented a radical reform of its procedure for licensing colleges of further and higher education as "sponsors" of tier 4 immigrants – students from outside the European Economic Area.

Previously such institutions, unless they were taxpayer-funded (and thus subject to compulsory inspection by the Quality Assurance Agency or Ofsted), had been obliged to seek "accreditation" from one of a small number of approved agencies, principally the British Accreditation Council (BAC) and the Accreditation Service for International Colleges (Asic). This regime had certainly not been foolproof. There were a number of high-profile cases of abuse among private sector institutions, and last April the public sector Glasgow Caledonian University had its tier 4 licence briefly suspended even though it had been QAA quality-assured.

With the home secretary, Theresa May, at its helm, the Home Office announced its intention to drastically reduce non-EU migration to the UK. International students presented themselves as the easy target. The UKBA announced that it proposed to help meet the government's migration objectives by restricting the recruitment activities of both profit and not-for-profit private educational institutions.

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