Statement from PAC Chair on NAO report: Immigration: The Points Based System - Student route

27 March 2012

NATIONAL AUDIT OFFICE: Immigration: The Points Based System – Student Route

A statement from The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts:

This is one of the most shocking reports of poor management leading to abuse that I have seen. The report found that the Agency failed to check most of the institutions accepting students before Tier 4 was introduced. In the first year, student visas increased by one third: 40,000 to 50,000 individuals probably used this route to work rather than to study. We will need to ask some important questions of those responsible.

It is completely unacceptable that the programme was launched without key controls being in place. The Agency has done little to stop students overstaying their visas. And it is extremely worrying that the Agency does not know how many people with expired student visas are still in the country.

It should be a real wake up call to the Agency that the NAO were able to track down 147 migrants who are probably here illegally within a week at a cost of only £3,000. The Agency needs to get a grip and fix the way it deals with student visas.

The report is available to read on the National Audit Office website.

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