Monthly Archives: October 2010

San Michael College – the Scam Continues

Not sure how much everyone knows about this college, but they have made threats to a number of students that we are accommodating. Each one of them have similar letters(all on a different style of headed paper). Each are given a fee to be paid by a certain date. No reciept was given when payment was made, and they have all been treatened (by letter) that if they do not pay their outstanding balance (over £1000) by the end of July, they will have their sponsorship revoked.

To top this, the students that have also got work have had their employers contacted by the school to say that they will have their sponsorship revoked. This has resulted in the students contemplating whether or not to go home or to fight this out (bearing in mind they never gave receipts to these students) with the help of a solicitor.

If I were to offer any advice to you people that are taking a course with this company, that seems to be more interested in taking your money than providing any education, is to get a receipt for EVERY payment you make.

The qualification provided by this college however does not sound like it is worth the paper is is printed on.

The courses are a 2 year course, but from all accounts seems that is being taken will not be a valid qualification by the end of this year, and so makes the second year a pointless excersies and a waste of money (which will no doubt not be refunded by the college).

So, be very very weary of this college and their poor practices.

One final note for everyone, the college is down as a registered charity, yet have only been so from June 2009. They had a very poor start, and got graded a B rating (eventually). If you want to learn anything, I suggest you choose a school that is not run by Nigerians, as they seem to have a reputation for doing the same thing worldwide, and seem to be quite good at it too… Yeas, scam artists.

Ask yourself this; was the agency that put you in touch with this school also run by Nigerians? If the answer is yes, then you’ll be ending up in the same situation as most the students in the city I live,that are all going to this college. That would be in rented accommodation that is not the agency’s to rent out, or even in abandoned houses that have no locks on the door. Getting moved from house to house in the middle of the night, and restricted from using the electric after a certain time.

In all this school and their associated agencies have got a lot to answer for. I hope that the UKBA also monitors this and looks into all the claims here, because if they do, the college will be removed from the school listings again (and hopefully on a permanent basis this time around).

This post was submitted by Richard.

Register of Tier 4 Sponsors – 27 October 2010

Differences against the Tier 4 Register 25 October 2010

From now on, Highly Trusted Sponsors will be dealt with on the Highly Trusted Sponsors List, whilst Tier 4 Sponsors Register posts will cover A-rated, B-rated and Trusted Sponsors.

The following schools and colleges were removed from the Register:


The following schools and colleges were added to the Register:

  • Arts Educational School London
  • Auckland College
  • Essex International College

Download the Register of Sponsors Tier4: 27 Oct 2010

33 Years Prison for Thames College London Fraudsters

Five people operating a bogus college and corrupt immigration advice firm were sentenced to 33 and a half years total detention, having been found guilty for conspiring to assist unlawful immigration and money-laundering offences.

Following an investigation by the UKBA immigration crime team, Syed Ahmed – a former barrister – was on trial for three weeks, where he was cleared on the money laundering charges but found guilty of conspiring to assist unlawful immigration. He was sentenced to eight and a half years.

Ahmed’s wife – Junjie Kao – was also involved, as well as another Chinese national, Wie Xing. Along with two Bangladeshi nationals – Khaled Mahmud and Tareq Mahmud – were given a total of 25 years by the judge.

Thames College London was nothing but a front, claiming to have sufficient premises to provide the courses they offered, but having none. Khaled Mahmud and Tareq Mahmud were responsible for running the college while Ahmed “worked” as a lecturer.

Operating a corrupt immigration company – Virgil Legal Services Ltd – the conspirators used Thames College London to issue entirely fake visa letters and other fraudulent documents,  which were used to secure UK student visas.

The scam paid twice for the conspirators, as they used their own corrupt immigration company – Virgil Legal Services Ltd – to process the visa applications for “students” of Thames College London. Upon serving a warrant, the UKBA team found £2.65 million in cash under a bed in a south-east London flat. Who knows how much more money has already left the college over the lifetime of the scam.

Commenting on the case, Hugh Ind, Director UKBA London and South East, said, “…this case shows, illegal immigration can be big business. This investigation and conviction demonstrates our determination to tackle those who commit organised immigration crime and bring the perpetrators to justice. We will continue to work with the police and other law enforcement partners to identify criminal activity and stamp out any abuses of the system.”

Head of the UKBA crime team, Detective Superintendent Chris Foster, added, “…the UK Border Agency and police continue to work in partnership to identify, dismantle and disrupt criminal networks who are involved in or benefiting from immigration crime. This was an extremely complex investigation that involved many thousands of pages of documentary evidence seized from a bogus college and a corrupt law firm.  The amount of cash seized from here highlights the attraction that immigration crime has for criminal gangs. A financial asset stripping investigation is ongoing.”

Highly Skilled Migrants must do Highly Skilled Work

Following recent publication of a report into Tier 1 visas during the interim UK immigration cap, Damian Green – the UK Immigration Minister – said, “Those coming into the UK under the highly skilled migrant route should only be able to do highly skilled jobs – it should not be used as a means to enter the low-skilled jobs market.”

The study showed that of all the Tier 1 visas issued from the start of the interim cap:

  • 29% had unskilled jobs
  • 25% had skilled jobs
  • 46% did not disclose their status

The study was quite tough, defining unskilled work as anything with an annual salary less than £25,000. Skilled work therefore, was defined as a job paying more than £25,000 per year.

Tier 1 of the Points Based System has quite strict criteria regarding education, skills and experience, however unlike Tier 2, a job offer is not required to be in place for the visa to be issued. It is this practice that Damian Green seems particularly focused on.

Tier 1 and 2 Visa Cap Could be Relaxed

David Cameron suggested that the four month old cap on highly skilled workers could well be relaxed, following concerns in the business community.

The Prime Minister said at a recent London conference: “As we control our borders and bring immigration to a manageable level, we will not impede you from attracting the best talent from around the world.”

Introduced in July 2010, the cap on the number of Tier 1 and Tier 2 UK visas issued to highly skilled workers has so far been used to measure opinion from those affected by the tougher immigration rules. Many UK companies have been lobbying government citing the cap as harmful to the economy and to the UK’s research and development excellence. This interim cap is to be replaced in April 2011 with a permanent cap on Tier 1 and 2 visas.

There has not just been a cap on the number of Tier 2 visas issued, but also on the number of sponsor licences issued to employers by the UKBA.

The interim limits in place do not apply to either applications made within the UK or extension applications; the cap applies to fresh out-country applications only.

Criticism of the tightening of the immigration rules has come from a range of sectors within the business community; from cancer charities to legal services and oil companies, all feel that the cap would seriously hamper their business capabilities. The financial services sector too, as one would expect, have been particularly fierce in their lobbying, seeking more flexibility for the permanent UK immigration cap due in spring. This is a view shared too by Vince Cable, UK Business Secretary and part of the UK coalition Government; rumours are that sparks have been flying internally over the issue of the immigration cap.

With the final details of the permanent immigration cap announced just before Christmas, there is certain to be a lot more jostling over this issue; both internally in Government and from externally from influential business leaders. With the proposed permanent immigration cap to be below 100,000 non-EU migrants, people are right to have serious concerns.

Study Group and Kingston University celebrate opening of International Study Centre

Study Group, a leading provider of foundation and preparation courses for international students in the UK, recently opened its first London-based International Study Centre (ISC) at Kingston University. The occasion was marked by a reception at the ISC’s headquarters at Kingston’s Penrhyn Road campus, which was attended by representatives from Study Group and the University, as well as some of the 70 students who make up part of the first year’s intake.

These students hail from around the world, and will study in a university-style environment, with progression guaranteed to pre-selected undergraduate degrees or postgraduate Master’s programmes at Kingston University on completion of their ISC course. The centre offers six International Foundation Year courses, including Business, Management and Economics and Life and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Students undertaking the specialist pre-Master’s programme can choose Business and Management, Computing or Engineering.

Kingston University Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Mackintosh, commented: “We have always been very proactive in the recruitment of overseas students directly at degree level; however, the ability to complete a preparatory year of study within a university environment is vital for many overseas students who wish to study further in the UK, particularly those arriving from countries that may not have the standard 13-year education system seen across Europe. Study Group not only has the necessary expertise to deliver bespoke courses, and high progression rates from ISC to university programme, but also shares our belief that your reputation is only as good as the service you provide to your students.”

James Pitman, Study Group’s MD of Higher Education, UK and Europe, added: “It is vital for us, when embarking on new partnerships, that both parties have the same high levels of commitment and engagement. Kingston University is internationally-renowned in the sector, and we look forward to seeing many students progress through the ISC onto undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.”

Newly-inducted students at the reception included Raja Jamal, enrolled on the engineering, maths and computing foundation year, and Janet Wu, 19, from Macau.

Janet is studying the International Foundation Certificate in Art and Design with English, and commented: “I really wanted to study art and design at Kingston because of its excellent reputation. My agent also advised me on the most suitable destination. Pursuing my passion for the arts at Bachelor level at Kingston’s internationally-renowned Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture would allow me to consider fine art or an interesting career in advertising. I’ve been here two weeks and I’ve already made friends in my halls and on my course!”

Unfortunately, settling in has not been such a straightforward experience for all of the new international students hoping to start at Kingston: “Several of our students who were meant to commence studies here have been held up by their visa applications; it’s very sad,” explained Paul Lovegrove, Principal of UK ISCs for Study Group.

However, Lovegrove is positive on the benefits students will gain from the partnership: “Kingston University is a well-established brand that is known for the warm welcome it gives overseas students and the quality of its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Kingston’s location is also ideal; the Penrhyn Road campus is close to the town centre which allows easy access to central London, complementing the close-knit community of the University. As Study Group’s first ISC in the capital, we’ll be working with the University to ensure it becomes an example of best practice for other higher education institutions in the area.”

About Study Group

Spanning five continents, Study Group is a global leader in international education, providing the highest quality educational opportunities for students from over 140 countries. Beginning in 1994 with 7,000 students per year, Study Group now has an enrolment base of 55,000 around the world.

Through Study Group’s leading set of partnerships with top universities, it is able to provide on and off-campus preparation courses for international students that ensure academic success and entry into some of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world. The quality of its UK teaching is confirmed by independent accreditation bodies worldwide including: English UK, Ofsted, British Council and the BAC.

The biggest intake of international students into Study Group’s UK programmes is from countries with emerging economies such as China, South East Asian economies, and in particular from oil-rich nations such as Russia and the Middle East.

About Kingston University

With more than 23,000 students, Kingston University is the largest provider of higher education in South West London, offering an extensive range of course programmes both in the United Kingdom and overseas. The University is renowned for teaching excellence, has established itself as a growing force in research and is a pioneer in e-learning. In its most recent university league table, The Sunday Times praised Kingston for having “one of the best teaching records of the country’s modern universities with 15 subjects rated excellent under the [former] teaching assessment programme.” The University boasts a raft of modern facilities. Three new buildings have opened as part of a £123 million investment programme running until 2018.

This post was submitted by Study Group.

Register of Tier 4 Sponsors – 25 October 2010

Differences against the Tier 4 Register 20 October 2010

From now on, Highly Trusted Sponsors will be dealt with on the Highly Trusted Sponsors List, whilst Tier 4 Sponsors Register posts will cover A-rated, B-rated and Trusted Sponsors.

The following schools and colleges were removed from the Register:

  • Manchester College of Higher Education & Media Technology Limited
  • St Christopher Iba Mar Diop College of Medicine Limited

The following schools and colleges were added to the Register:

  • Hereward College
  • Widows and Orphans International

Download the Register of Sponsors Tier4: 25 Oct 2010

Register of Tier 4 Sponsors – 20 October 2010

Differences against the Tier 4 Register 15 October 2010

From now on, Highly Trusted Sponsors will be dealt with on the Highly Trusted Sponsors List, whilst Tier 4 Sponsors Register posts will cover A-rated, B-rated and Trusted Sponsors.

The following schools and colleges were removed from the Register:

  • Yeshivas Lubavitch Manchester

The following schools and colleges were added to the Register:

  • Arbor Prep School & Cherry Trees Montessori Nursery (warrenhill ltd)
  • London College of Management and Leadership Ltd

Download the Register of Sponsors Tier4: 20 Oct 2010

Global Vision College Ordered to Refund Student by County Court

It seems there is good news at last for students who are struggling to get refunds from their college. As the author has suggested in many posts, college’s terms and conditions can be challenged in court successfully.

Pakistani national Mr Naeem Ali paid a £1,000 deposit for a course at Global Vision College, Manchester. Unfortunately, his Tier 4 visa application was refused by the Visa Section at the British Embassy, Islamabad. According to reports, Mr Ali did not meet the requirements for a Tier 4 student visa. He applied for a refund from his college, who promised to return a minimum of £750, but failed to return any money to Mr Ali.

Not wanting to be defeated and cheated of his money, Naeem lodged a complaint in Manchester Country Court. District Judge Wheeler took a dim view to the refusal to provide a refund and ordered Global Vision College to refund the full £1,000 plus £400 costs. Mr Usman Arshad, the lawyer representing Mr Ali, said the ruling should encourage other students to take similar action and that the Court’s decision had profound implications for international students facing tough regulations from the Home Office and UK Border Agency.

“A number of potential students would have been frightened to apply to British colleges and universities and pay fees up front if they were not sure of getting a refund in the event of a problem,” he said.

Strategies for Learning English Outside of the Classroom

English teachers have lots of effective methods for learning in the classroom, but if you don’t take the initiative to learn on your own, you won’t be maximizing your potential. To get the most out of your English learning experience, try to keep making progress outside of the classroom by using some of the following strategies.

Listen to Music

Find English music videos online that have the lyrics as subtitles. Chances are that with images, music, and audio-visual lyrics, you’ll be able to remember new vocabulary and grammatical forms more successfully. Repetition is also helpful, and songs often include refrains that reiterate key phrases, which could assist you in learning English.

Watch TV or Movies

If you’re still just getting started on learning English, keep the subtitles on when you watch TV shows or movies. This will reinforce new vocabulary words and clarify anything that you think you might have misheard. As you make more progress, turn off the subtitles and try to understand what’s being said simply by listening. It’s a great way to test your listening skills, especially if you’re watching online and can easily replay segments with the subtitles on to make sure that you understood correctly.

Speak English Whenever Possible

Even if you’re apprehensive about making mistakes while speaking English, go ahead and use English for as many conversations as you can. If you’re nervous, you can always ask the people you’re talking to if they can help you correct any mistakes – they’re usually happy to help. You’ll learn a lot about listening and responding without taking five minutes to formulate an answer, as you might be used to doing in the classroom. Practising English in the moment is an important part of studying that shouldn’t be left out, and you’ll also learn a lot about yourself. Often, you know more than you think you do and can benefit from testing yourself in new ways.

Record Yourself

Many people dislike the sound of their own voices, but it can be extremely helpful to record yourself as you learn English. Not only will you be able to identify weak points in your understanding of the language, but you’ll also be creating benchmarks for monitoring your progress. It’s a great feeling to play back an old recording and realize how much better you are than you used to be.

Monitor Your Progress

You take tests in the classroom, but why not try some on your own? There are many English quizzes you can take online, categorized by parts of speech, tense, vocabulary, level, and more. You can easily find a test that addresses a problem that you tend to encounter often in your English studies. Taking the same quiz periodically can show you that you’re making significant progress as your scores and confidence level go up. In addition to comparing test scores from different periods in your English learning process, you can compare recordings of your voice answering the same prompts and identify multiple points of development. If you’re going to do the hard work to learn English efficiently and successfully, make sure that you record the journey and can appreciate how far you’ve come.

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching areas of online colleges. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

This post was submitted by Maria Rainier.