The 161,000 recruits attracted to UK last year includes 33,240 dependents – more than a quarter of all foreign students
Universities are paying education agents who recruit Indian students with “bring your family” offers.
They are paying commission to agents who provide prospective Indian students with help in securing visas for their spouses and children.
The agents are also marketing “graduate visas” where students stay and work in the UK for two years after completing their degrees, alongside help in securing part-time work during their studies.
One agent even claimed a “full-time job” for a spouse could be “assured” as well as the two-year “stay”. Another urged students not to “waste your time and get going” as the UK could soon put restrictions on dependents.
The disclosures come amid concern in government at a near-trebling in the number of student dependents securing visas to come to the UK, from 44,000 to more than 116,000 in just a year.
Ministers are considering curbs on the number of dependents allowed into the UK and restrictions on foreign students attending “low-quality” courses in an effort to reduce net migration, which hit a post-war record high of 504,000 in the year to June.
The 161,000 Indian students – including 33,240 dependents – who came to the UK last year have overtaken the Chinese as the biggest nationality on campus, accounting for more than a quarter of all foreign students.
New Way Consultancy (NWC) says it works for more than 70 universities including Coventry, Ulster, Middlesex, Birkbeck, Westminster and Greenwich and is paid on commission for each student it recruits.
One of its posts on Facebook states: “Do you want to study in the UK? Have plans to become a global citizen? Want to fly with your spouse and dependent? Apply fast and secure your admission as quickly as possible through NWC, we are the official agent of 75-plus UK universities.”
Another post advertising 30 postgraduate courses at Birmingham City University urged students to “fly with spouse”, while a third said the “dependent can apply together”.
A fourth claimed a “high visa success rate” to secure two years’ post-studies work”, while a fifth said: “Are you looking to study or extend your visa in the UK and targeting two years’ post-study work visa. Call @xxxxx.”
Aim Britz, another agent, lists 36 universities on its website rated as “high-ranking”, “popular” or “cheaper”.
“Do you want to pursue your career in the UK and also plan to take your spouse to the UK with you, but are not sure where to start? Don’t worry, Aim Britz simply take care of it,” it said on its Facebook site.
“We also give you the assistance with a full-time job assured for spouse, two-year stay back [post-study work visas], IELTS [International English Language Testing System] exams, year gap accepted, funding assistance available.”
A third agent, Sahil Bhatia, who runs Om Visa consultancy in the north Indian state of Punjab, warned those planning to take their spouses on courses: “Don’t waste your time and get going because the UK may put restrictions on the dependent visa in the near future.
“From next year, there is the possibility that interviews will be compulsory and the UK won’t grant visas. So grab this opportunity. Also, Canada has put restrictions so England is the best place to go. You can go together to the UK unlike in other countries where the main applicant goes first and the dependent later.”
One Indian contacted by The Telegraph came to the UK on his wife’s student visa. He said: “In effect, the university course is used by some Indian students to enter the UK for jobs for dependents rather than excelling in academia.”
Another said: “Many friends have brought their partners here on a student visa and they are working in different companies. So, the idea is to live and earn here and try to get UK citizenship and live here for life.”
Other students claimed that they worked longer than the 20 weeks permitted during term time. Some claimed they bunked classes and worked nearly 42 hours a week as runners or dishwashers run by Indians in central London.
“These businessmen exploit the students and pay them in cash at the rate of £7.50 per hour or even less,” said one Indian postgraduate. In some parts of London, it is claimed more than a dozen Indian students live in a three-bedroom flat.
“In such a set-up, it is evident that education is not the priority but earning the living costs to extend stay in the UK,” the postgraduate added.
Moe Sobahan, NWC’s head of international recruitment, said the introduction of the graduate visa had fuelled the growth in Indian students because two years’ work experience on top of a UK degree gave them the edge in securing good jobs on their return to India, ahead of those with only a degree certificate.
He said that postgraduate students brought their families because of their responsibility to them and for “peace of mind”, adding that they were paying not only into the UK economy through fees of £10,000 to £26,000 but also an NHS surcharge of £400 a year for the student and £600 for a dependent.
He warned restrictions on graduate work visas would lead to the collapse of the Indian student market in the UK, as they would switch to Australia, which offered up to six years’ post-study work or Canada which allowed up to three years.
“International students are not migrants, they never stay here,” he said. On its website, NWC is listed as certified by the British Council and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
Aim Britz has been contacted for comment.
The British Council is due next week to announce a crackdown on agents with a new database of certified international student recruitment businesses. It said it would provide training, promote a code of conduct and “engage” with high-quality agents to enable students to make “more informed choices”.
“The UK is launching a new framework for working with high-quality agents next week. As part of that, the British Council will be launching a training and engagement platform to promote best practice,” it said.
Birmingham City University said NWC had recruited a “very small number” of students for it and said it reviewed its relationship to ensure “the best possible service” for students.
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