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Chinese students in UK feel pain of consultancy losing its license

By Cecily Liuin London | China Daily | Updated: 2016-07-07 07:51

A UK immigration consultancy had its license suspended recently, leading to 257 Chinese graduates being told to leave the country.

In June, the UK-based Overseas Student Service Centre had its sponsorship license revoked by the British Home Office. As a result, 257 Chinese students sponsored by the group were told to leave the UK within 60 days or make alternative arrangements to stay.

Compliance checks of the consultancy by the government found "significant breaches" of its obligations, according to a Home Office spokesman who requested anonymity. The Home Office deals with the country's internal affairs.

The consultancy's scheme, called the International Student Internship Program, placed eligible graduates in internships at UK-based organizations. It was run in partnership with a UK-based law firm, Denning Legal. The consultancy charged students a fee of 1,200 pounds ($1,570) for the program. It was rolled out under the government's so-called Tier 5 exchange program, where organizations can sponsor student internships at UK companies

Colin Chen, managing director of the program, cited two main reasons the program was accused of noncompliance by the Home Office: The government thinks interns are taking jobs from Britons by developing business relations with China; and the consultancy failed to track interns' hours and job tasks, as required by law.

Chen said the Home Office unfairly targeted the consultancy. But the Home Office spokesman said the internship program was found to be out of compliance on many points required for a license.

Chinese student numbers in the UK have grown rapidly. In the 2014-15 academic year, the number of Chinese students exceeded any other nationality, with 89,540 enrolled in higher education.

Yet graduate students' ability to stay in the country has become increasingly difficult since the UK abolished its post-study work visa in 2012. Under the previous visa arrangement, students could stay in the UK after graduation to gain work experience for two years.

Zhang Xueying, head of the China and Far East Desk at Sherrards Solicitors, said the number of immigration agencies focusing on the Chinese graduates' market has grown rapidly since the abolition of the PSW scheme.

She said it is not uncommon for Chinese students to have their visa applications rejected or be banned from entry for a time, because of the unprofessional practices of some of the immigration agents they use.

Chinese students in UK feel pain of consultancy losing its license

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