‘Sham college network’ allows Pakistanis into Britain: report

May 22nd, 2009 - 5:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon Brown London, May 22 (IANS) A “network of sham colleges” is allowing thousands of Pakistanis, including men from the restive northwest of the country, to enter Britain by enrolling as students, a newspaper revealed.
One college alone has 1,200 international students on its rolls despite claiming to have only 150, The Times reported Friday as part of an investigation.

The college, which is run by Pakistanis, has offered places to a further 1,575 foreigners - 906 of them in Pakistan - and has been selling diplomas and faking attendance records to enable foreigners to stay in Britain, the paper said.

The reports come after a diplomatic row between Pakistan and Britain last month over the arrest of 12 men - 10 of them Pakistani students - from Manchester and Liverpool on charges of terrorism.

British police were forced to release the men without charges for lack of evidence but several of them are said to be facing deportation.

The government of Pakistan publicly accused Britain of arresting innocent Pakistanis and President Asif Ali Zardari skipped a joint press conference with British Premier Gordon Brown in Islamabad - apparently as a snub.

However, the Times report now reveals that eight of the arrested men were enrolled in a single college that had just three small classrooms and three teachers for 1,797 students on its books.

Hundreds of men studying at the college come from North West Frontier Province and mountainous tribal areas near the Afghan border, which are strongholds of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The Times said it has uncovered close ties between 11 colleges in London, Manchester and Bradford, all formed in the past five years and controlled by three young Pakistani businessmen.

Each of the three men entered the country on a student visa, it said.

The paper said the people running the scam charged 1,000 pounds for admission places and fake diplomas, and 2,500 pounds for false attendance records and fake degrees.

British police arrested one man this week after The Times gave the British home ministry a dossier implicating two of the colleges.

Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of Migrationwatch UK, an independent think-tank, and a former British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, demanded “a complete reappraisal of travel to and from Pakistan and Britain, especially as conditions there deteriorate.”

The British government says more than 70 percent of terrorist incidents in Britain have a Pakistani connection.

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