“There has been much rhetoric in the press recently regarding the strict UK student visa policies’ impact on the higher education sector, nobody denies that.
No matter how much we all need our jobs, how much we are desperate to avoid the unemployment figures rising in this country, we cannot deny one hard fact. Some of these private colleges were acting as retail outlets and selling UK student visas to those who wished to come to UK to earn money. The majority of the students studying in these colleges were, and are, in the UK not with the intention to study, but only to work.
These private colleges were aware of these facts but, in order to make easy money, were recruiting disingenuous students from overseas, especially countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nigeria etc. As people from these countries are desperate to come to the UK to earn money due to poverty at home, therefore, they are exploited by the colleges and the recruiting agents who advise them to use the student visa route to enter UK.
All these private colleges form a sub-prime academic world where the quality of education is defenestrated and the focus is on passing the students and making money out of them. Many of these colleges exploited the Post-Study work route as well.
Their unscrupulous activity is not limited to the students but the staff working in these colleges are ill-treated and have to work in a sweat-shop kind of an environment. Owners of these colleges pressurise the staff to commit shenanigans and are threatened of their job if instructions are not followed.
Staff members under pressure commit all these shenanigans under the instructions of the owners of the colleges. At the time of a UKBA or media raid, owners of the college deny their involvement and flee from UK with huge sum of money using the staff members as the scapegoats. In addition, the staff members of most of these colleges are demoralised due to non-conducive working environment and that is why many of these colleges face a high employee turnover.
Marketing activities in these colleges are not managed by qualified marketing experts but the owners of the colleges themselves. These marketing quacks create links with dubious recruiting agents in their home countries who supply them with the students (so-called) who wish to come to UK.
A few years back, when the UK student visa immigration rules were relaxed, many people without educational background entered this industry to make quick money. I believe many of these private independent colleges are the hubs of poor governance, dubious marketing strategies, ignorance of academic knowledge and they have left no stone unturned in contaminating the UK higher education industry.
UKBA is making reasonable amendments in order to curtail all these shenanigans but unfortunately these new laws are affecting the genuine educational providers as well.
Murad Ali works as an Operations Manager for a private independent college in the UK. He has been in this industry for five years and started as a lecturer.