'3,000 banks' on visa blacklist
Nearly 3,000 banks have been put on a Government black-list of financial institutions which cannot be trusted to verify documents supporting student visa applications, officials have said.
Foreign students applying to study in the UK who claim they have funds to support themselves and pay for their course held in any of the banks on the list will receive no points for maintenance, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) said.
The list, which includes 1,977 banks in India, three in Pakistan and 762 in the Philippines, is the latest part of the Government's efforts to crack down on bogus students.
Study is the most common reason for migrants coming to the UK, with three in four of the 228,000 who came to the UK for study last year coming from outside the EU.
A UKBA spokeswoman said: "We have radically overhauled the student visa system in order to tackle abuses whilst continuing to attract the brightest and best genuine students from across the world.
"We need to be confident that those applying for student visas have the funds to support themselves and pay for their course in the UK."
Alp Mehmet, vice-chairman of the campaign group Migration Watch UK, said the list was "just one indication of the rampant abuse of the student visa system".
"It is high time that interviews were re-introduced in countries of concern to weed out bogus students before they get a visa," he said. "Once they are here they are not only very difficult and expensive to remove but they also damage the reputation of our very valuable higher education sector."
Officials will give a 30-day notice period when any bank is added to the list to enable potential foreign students to provide financial documentation which meets the new requirements.
The list will also be kept under review, officials said.