There seems to be some old information here....
The rules changed last year regarding colleges and student visas. This is the last stage in the governments plan to control immigration using a points system to qualify applicants. Tier 4 Visas are Students and Colleges.
The rules are now that there are two types of Student Visa: a Student Visitor Visa a for courses of 6 months or less and the Student Visa for longer courses for degrees and diplomas. With the Student Visitor visa no working is allowed and the course has to be paid for upfront and you have to show you have money for your upkeep.
The Student Visa allows work for up to 20hours a week (as is neccessary for many of our local students these days). However. As well as showing evidence that the fees have been paid to a college that has been inspected by one of the two agencies approved by the Border Agency, the applicant also has to show they have at least £800 a month for 9 months if they live in the London area, for their upkeep. This is part of the cunning plan to keep out the ne'er do wells intent on sponging off the largesse of the UK welfare system. Clearly that sort of money would buy a lot of health care in whatever impoverished country the applicants come from. Most of those that I have met have no idea that healthcare is free in the UK, With respect to health tourism, I had a friend who took advantage of this after he emigrated to the US, He made sure his wife flew back to the UK for the birth of his children so it would be paid for the UK, In the US it would have cost £10k a pop. But then he was an IT contractor, not some poor guy from a poor country, He knew how to play the system.
College fees in London are typically more £6,000 and the colleges don't give out the necessary certificate to get the visa unless the students cough up in advance in their own country. So we are talking serious money to come to the UK to study.
These are the stringent checks that some of the contriibutors here want to see in place. But there are problems. The Home Office is automating the system and this has led to a surge in applications to beat the deadline for paper submissions. Usually there is a big delay in getting computerised systems working and the colleges are no doubt anxious to prepare for that.
The colleges are trying to protect themselves, the inspection system has weeded out the bogus colleges that are little more than an office above a takeaway. but the legitamate colleges that have obeyed all the rules are starting to feel the pressure on their cash flow. Some are going out of business. Without a regular supply of students, their cash flow is effectively frozen.
What of the students? Most are utterly depressed. After coughing up a lot of cash to study in the UK, they face the prospect of their colleges going bust leaving them high and dry. They will get no refund and then the rules are that they have 60 days to find another college to accommodate them. Most have borrowed money from family or money lenders and their prospects on returning home early are unenviable. Many try to get part time jobs in the UK, but the face stiff competition. I have met some who have been ripped off, paid £20 a day for packing vegetables. They live in the cheapest places, many people sharing rooms, trying to stretch their funds until they can find a decent part time job. The places they live are often subject to harrassement by the authorities. Being woken up by the Border Agency robocops at 6am for a shakedown, passport inspection and watching people in the same house being bundled kicking and screaming into a police van is shocking. There are some serious rumbles of discontent in the foreign student community. There are many thousands of students who are feeling robbed and persecuted. This is not the way to treat people who contribute funds to the economy,
Also in the news are budget cuts to public colleges and universities. Some of which are on the edge of insolvency. A full 8% or £4Billion a year of the Education budget comes from foreign students but now that income has been stopped by the actions of the Border Agency.
I foresee and interesting spat between the Home Office and Ministry of Education.