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UK Cracks Down on Fake Colleges

When it comes to online and smaller colleges gaining legitimacy, one of the biggest roadblocks can be the sheer number of fake and fraudulent "colleges" coming down through the pipes and setting up shop every year. There are often too many to deal with, but officials are doing what they can to weed out the bad seeds. In the UK, Members of Parliament (MPs) on the Commons Home Affairs committee have issued a new report stressing the need for even stronger regulations on educational institutions, after 300 fake colleges were recently discovered by the UK Border Agency.

According to the BBC, Scotland's college system is warmly welcoming the crackdown, especially after it was shown that the bogus colleges -- several of which were found operating out of Glasgow -- were being used as a front for illegal immigration, supplying fraudulent student visas to facilitate travel. According to the MPs on the Commons Home Affairs committee, "tens of thousands of foreign nationals may have entered the UK illegally in this way." Tightened controls are deemed necessary to prevent such actions continuing further.

In the report given, the MPs gave critical importance to restricting use of the word college for only "institutions accredited by the state." Committee Chairman Keith Vaz emphasized the importance and urgency of limiting terms to accredited schools, stating: "The government must restrict the term 'college', to prevent any premises above a fish and chip shop from being able to claim it is a reputed educational institution."

The MPs also stated dissatisfaction that no action had been taken yet, despite giving the government "repeated warnings" about the problem of unaccredited fake schools in the past. That said, action is being planned and officials of legitimate accredited colleges are thrilled, as long as the government follows through. According to Chris Travis, chief executive of Scotland's Colleges, "It is simply great news that the House of Commons Home Affairs committee has recognised the problem and recommended the government takes swift action... only by doing this can the future reputations of all legitimate colleges in Scotland be safeguarded."

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