It’s well-known that pursuing a higher education abroad, especially in the Global North, puts you at a distinct advantage in the international employment market. Some, though, will literally go the extra mile to fake their way through immigration loopholes for successful entries.
In the UK, there are 55,465 Indian students enroled across all higher education institutions as of 2021. Enrolment rates are showing staggering growth that have more than doubled since 2019. With Indian students coming in droves, it can be hard to detect those that slip through the cracks with fraudulent visas.
Here are five university scam stories where Indian nationals have falsified documents to enter or remain in the UK as a student:
1. The Kerala youth detained at Bengaluru airport
Soju Thazhathu Veettil Shaji was ready to fly into the UK with forged documents when immigration officials aborted his plans at the Bengaluru airport.
According to The Siasat Daily, the authorities have taken the forgery as a grave concern, especially after discovering a fake transcript from the Gulbarga University of Karnataka as well. Shaji was said to have procured a ticket on British Airways, when officers felt doubtful over the authenticity of his documents. The accused revealed that he had paid 65,000 Indian Rupees to secure the certificates, and is currently under investigation under police custody.
2. Student loan scams for UK visas
Studying abroad comes with a hefty price tag, and border officials will require proof of funds before visas can be issued successfully. Enter student loan schemes duping the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
This case surfaced when undercover reporters from The Sunday Times unmasked a plot by foreign agents enticing prospective students with 10,500 pounds in loans as financial proof to get their visas. The amount would then be refunded to the agents as soon as it has appeared on bank statements for a month, Zee News reports.
Largely based in the state of Punjab, the investigation found that students were charged a 7% interest and a processing fee of 200 pounds, amounting to nearly 935 pounds in total. The fraudulent scheme came at the time when the UK had just established the points-based entry system.
The University has been advised about a ‘scam’ which is in operation and targets international students across the UK, including Northern Ireland. PLEASE NOTE: The Home Office will never contact you to ask for money and personal details. Find out more: https://t.co/2mpWL43fGK pic.twitter.com/F7yCHqZtrM
— QUB International Student Support (@QUBIntStudents) October 7, 2019
3. The Indian student jailed for attempting to overstay his visa
In 2012, an Indian student was arrested at his residence in the UK when he admitted to producing fake documents from his computer in order to remain in the country, according to The Indian Express.
Sanket Thaker was found to have been present at a UKBA office in Solihull prior to the arrest in an attempt to extend his student visa. Authorities were dubious over his two certificates due to inferior print quality, an officer in the agency was quoted saying. The documents were claimed to have been from the University of Hertfordshire and the City of London College.
The probe revealed that Thaker had indeed been enroled in both institutions, but was from the University of Hertfordshire and faced suspension from the City of London College at the time of his arrest.
4. The woman who used a substitute for her English proficiency test
Clearing the English proficiency test is a must for UK university admissions, and cheating your way through is a serious offence. According to The Economic Times, an Indian woman was detained at New Delhi after she was found to have used another person to sit for her English language test.
When the UKBA unearthed her duplicity, the woman was referred to the Indian police. The result? A 10-year-ban from entering the UK. At the time, it was determined that 6,388 forgeries were detected at the New Delhi police office.
5. A region-wide UK university visa suspension by the UK
It’s rare that large-scale deliberate visa suspensions are enacted, but that’s exactly what students from north India faced in 2010. The UKBA introduced the drastic step after an unusual surge that amounted to 10 times the application numbers compared to previous years, The Economic Times reports.
“Some applicants are trying to abuse the visa procedure to get entry into the UK for purposes other than studies. We cannot allow this to happen,” UKBA regional director Chris Dix was quoted saying. The move greatly burdened genuine applicants, who had to travel to other parts of the country to lodge visa applications.