23,000 'bogus students' allowed to stay in UK as border staff 'ignored tip-offs' about them
British authorities ignored over 150,000 warnings in three years from universities and colleges concerned that their foreign students were bogus, it has emerged.
The blunder meant 23,000 bogus students were allowed to remain in Britain when they should have been sent home, many of whom have still not been traced.
A damning report revealed that staff at the UK Border Agency failed to check tens of thousands of tips-offs about overseas students including worries that some had not even enrolled at the start of term.
According to the Telegraph, it also emerged that compliance officers who visited universities and colleges had no powers of arrest, so could take 'little or no action' even if they found someone had no right to be in the country.
Some 153,000 warnings were issued by sponsors in the three years to March this year, the paper said.
But inspectors found the agency had no targets to address them and "they were only dealt with when resources permitted".
According to the paper, it comes after a damning report last week found the agency made virtually no effort to trace more than 120,000 asylum seekers and migrants, despite reassuring MPs that "extensive checks" were being carried out.
John Vine, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, said it demonstrated a 'significant failure,' while MPs called for officials to hand back their bonuses, the paper said.