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Prospective overseas students to face visa interviews

UK border agency

More than 100,000 prospective international students are to be interviewed by consular staff in a new scheme that seeks to turn away ‘bogus’ students before they reach the UK, Theresa May recently announced.

UKBA consular staff is given a new power to refuse entry to any overseas students whose credibility remains in doubt after being interviewed as part of the government’s initiative to clampdown migration. Those who fail to turn up for the interview will also be refused entry to Britain if they fail to give a reasonable explanation.

In a keynote speech on immigration, the home secretary said the new round of interviews would be extended 'across all routes to Britain'. This could mean that as many as 250,000 people hoping to come to Britain could face an interview.

The new interview scheme is based on a pilot study carried over by the Border Agency in July 2012, in which 2,300 prospective students were interviewed. The study revealed that 'abuse was rife, paper-based checks weren’t working, and interviews, conducted by entry clearance officers with the freedom to use their judgement, work'.

Theresa May said from this year: 'We will extend radically the Border Agency's interviewing programme. Starting with the highest-risk countries, and focusing on the route to Britain that is widely abused, student visas, we will increase the number of interviews to considerably more than 100,000, starting next financial year.'

She added: 'As with our changes to economic immigration, so our changes to student visas strike a balance, and send a message. If you can speak English, and you can get a place on a legitimate course at a genuine university, you can come to study in Britain. There is no cap on the number of students able to come here – and there are no current plans to introduce a cap.'

A similar initiative in which students are tested in the English language skills upon arrival to the UK has also sparked concerns. 

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