No let-up in overseas oversight for private colleges

The Home Office has confirmed it will continue with the system of “educational oversight”, which requires private higher education colleges to pass inspections carried out by the Quality Assurance Agency.

July 24, 2012

The new requirements, introduced last year, led to 172 colleges losing the right to recruit international students because they failed to apply for oversight by the September 2011 deadline.

In a statement yesterday, the Home Office said that providers would be fully inspected every four years, although inspections could be brought forward if colleges experienced a “material change in circumstances”.

This could include a “sudden increase” in student numbers; a significant change in the courses offered; or a merger or acquisition of a new branch.

The QAA will also introduce “risk-based interim health checks” which will be a “light-touch, shortened version of a full assessment” carried out between the full inspections every four years.

They can be carried out “without notice or at short notice”, the Home Office said.

Last month the UK Border Agency released the results of pilot interviews done by staff to assess whether international students who had applied for visas were coming to the UK for purely academic reasons.

Interviewers raised concerns over the genuineness of 58 per cent of further or higher education students coming to the UK to study at a privately funded college. For university students, the figure was 16 per cent.

Yesterday, the Home Affairs Committee recommended that, where practical, all international students should be interviewed to determine whether or not they were genuine.

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