A report suggesting that more than 150,000 international students may have overstayed in the UK is "seriously misleading" according to language centre association English UK.
A report by the UKBA chief inspector of immigration, John Vine, says that there was a backlog of 152,000 notifications about changes in students' circumstances in May, which meant there could potentially have been "thousands" of migrants who were not complying with their visas and whose leave should have been curtailed by the agency, but had not been. Institutions sponsoring students must tell the Border Agency if students do not enrol, miss sessions, or have a "significant" change in their circumstances.
English UK's Chief executive Tony Millns says that it is a misinterpretation to assume that students reported under this system are overstaying, or even in the UK.
"Sponsors don't want bogus or overstaying students, so they are scrupulously reporting everything that the law requires. The trouble is that often the system itself is at fault -- for instance, if a student has a formal offer at two colleges, they will be reported as failing to enrol at the one they turn down. This report would brand that student as potentially overstaying, whereas they are studying perfectly legally at a different institution.
"It's clear that the Border Agency hasn't been pursuing most of these supposed 150,000 overstayers, because they know perfectly well that they don't exist."
Out of 152,000 students cited in the report as possibly overstaying in the UK: