More than a third of foreign students who went on to claim asylum in the UK come from just SIX institutions

More than a third of foreign students who went on to claim asylum in the UK come from just SIX institutions

Watch: GB News' Tom Harwood reveals intimidation he received for hosting a debate at university

GB News
James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 29/04/2024

- 12:57

Updated: 29/04/2024

- 14:58

The shocking figures follow claims by former Home Secretary Suella Braverman earlier this year that 'too many universities are selling immigration, not education'

Over a third of the thousands of foreign students who claimed asylum in the UK were sponsored to come to the country by a mere six educational institutions, a shocking new report has revealed.

Leaked Home Office figures bolstered existing concerns that higher education is being taken advantage of as a route for prospective migrants to enter the UK, with numbers more than quadrupling since the previous year.

The numbers, uncovered by the Daily Mail, were found on a secret Home Office database - and showed that 6,136 asylum claims had been filed by foreign students in the 12 months leading up to March 2023.

Of those, 2,195 were sponsored by five universities, as well as Study Group UK, an education agency.

Cleverly/university signage

Home Secretary James Cleverly had announced an official review into the UK's "graduate visa" scheme in December last year


The report found 804 foreign students who then claimed asylum had seen their visas sponsored by Study Group - of that total, 642 were made by Bangladeshis and 156 by Pakistanis.

The University of Portsmouth accounted for the second-highest number of students who then claimed asylum, with 395 claims comprising 252 from Bangladesh, 54 from Afghanistan, 38 from Cameroon and 28 from Pakistan.

In third stood Leicester's De Montfort University with 310, followed by the University of Hertfordshire with 275, Coventry University with 217 and the University for the Creative Arts with 194.

The universities listed - alongside Study Group UK - are officially licensed to sponsor foreign visa applications by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), a Home Office agency.


\u200bStudy Group homepage

Study Group prides itself on guiding "thousands of international students each year towards academic and professional success"

Study Group

The report follows significant criticism from home secretaries past and present over rising foreign student numbers in the UK - former Home Secretary Suella Braverman had said earlier this year that "too many universities are selling immigration, not education".

The current office-holder, James Cleverly, announced an official review of the UK's "graduate visa" scheme - which lets graduates live and work in the UK for up to two years after leaving university - in December, the results of which have not yet been released.

The most recent official Home Office data shows there had been 457,673 sponsored study visas handed out to applicants last year; five per cent fewer than 2022 - but an increase of 70 per cent on pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

On the other hand, the "graduate route" allowed for 114,409 foreign students to extend their stay in the UK by two years after completing their studies - a 57 per cent year-on-year increase.

A University of Portsmouth spokesman said: "This issue is a result of the Government's asylum policy, which allows visa switching in a way that is outside the direct control of the universities concerned and is not a failing of the higher education sector.

"The visa system and rules should not permit individuals approved to study with a study visa to legally switch to claim asylum."

The spokesman added that the university has taken steps and worked with UKVI on the issue.

A Study Group spokesman said: "As a UKVI licence-holder with a track record of compliance to sponsor international students, we take our duties extremely seriously.

"We immediately flag immigration concerns regarding any students who may seem non-genuine."

GB News has approached De Montfort University, the University of Hertfordshire, Coventry University and the University for the Creative Arts for comment.

In response, one of the universities issued a response via a spokesperson from Universities UK, an advocacy group for British universities.

The group's statement read: "To recruit international students, universities must meet very high standards set by government. Adherence to these standards is continuously monitored by UKVI at every university and compliance is exceptionally high across the sector.

"On occasions, evidence of potential abuse may be identified by universities or by UKVI. When this happens, institutions work closely with UKVI and take prompt action. Our universities take visa compliance very seriously and, working with Home Office and UKVI, take all possible steps to minimise the potential for abuse."

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