An anonymous insider has revealed the secrets of a shadowy industry accused of ‘selling immigrants’.
From January, the government will ban international university students in the UK from bringing family members with them, under legislation announced by Suella Braverman earlier this year.
This deadline resulted in large numbers of foreign students flocking to the UK with their families.
MailOnline spoke to an international recruitment expert based at a top education provider who lifted the lid on the practice they called a ‘dark art’.
They said, ‘Our numbers have gone up quite substantially [since the deadline was announced].
‘There are lots of deals that are done because there is so much money in it.’
Universities are said to be spending £500m on the education agency sector to attract foreign students to their courses. This is largely because foreigners often pay at least double the university tuition fees of UK students.
In total, international students bring in a whopping £41.9 billion to UK universities each year, of which £4.3 billion comes from EU students and £37.6 billion from students outside Europe.
Last year, there were 559,825 non-EU international students studying at UK universities, an increase of 23.8% on the previous year. Education agents are again advertising on social media this year about how to ‘unite your family in the UK’.
Another firm of education agents in Nigeria asked: ‘Do you want to relocate as a dependent?’
It added a poster with the phrase ‘How to relocate to the UK with your spouse’ on it.
Industry insiders who spoke to MailOnline revealed that the number of foreign students their company is preparing for UK universities, teaching them English and helping them pass their A-Levels, has increased significantly.
They added: ‘Most students have an agent. Often they are individuals. They do all the work for the student – find out about the course, the uni. They often get commission.
‘The agent will get a reputation as a good or bad agent.
‘It’s a business. [Universities] want them to bring more students. [Agents] usually get 20 to 30 per cent when their student [finishes university].’
They admitted some people could ‘just disappear’ when they arrive in the UK and universities would blacklist education agents who broke the rules.
The industry insider added: ‘If you were coming you would come now because you can still bring dependents.
‘You could come here and disappear.
‘Whether there is a market where students are paying to come here and live in the UK… we have red flags on certain nationalities, just to be careful.
‘Since the pandemic the numbers have gone down so everyone is trying to get China back.
‘They might be looking for a better life. It makes a lot of money – it’s a big industry.
‘[Foreign students] pay ridiculous amounts of fees.’
However, although some agents may break the rules to ‘sell immigration’, they said ‘a lot of agents are really great’.
They added: ‘There are lots of rules. If students come here and they don’t attend classes they will be sent home.
‘There are government rules. UKVI [UK Visas and Immigration Border Police] will come in and do spot checks.
‘They come and they will need to see all your records and what your processes are.’
In May, then-Home Secretary Suella Braverman unveiled a package of new restrictions on foreign students that aimed to reduce net migration to ‘sustainable levels’. Source: MailOnline