Nearly 50,000 migrants have fraudulently obtained English language certificates and the figure is likely to rise, Ministers have admitted.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire told the House of Commons an investigation into the European subsidiary of an American firm called Educational Testing Services (ETS) found more than 29,000 invalid test results and more than 19,000 questionable results.
Facilitated by organised crime, the “systematic cheating” typically involved invigilators supplying or reading out answers to whole rooms of imposters allowed to step into the exam candidates’ places to sit the test.
A criminal investigation has been launched into ETS Global.
In addition, Mr Brokenshire said UK Visas and Immigration enforcement officers had uncovered evidence of “serious concern” when looking at colleges and universities involved.
As as result, Glyndwr University, which has campuses at Wrexham, Northop and St Asaph in north-east Wales, has had its right to sponsor foreign students suspended, while 57 private further education colleges have also had their licences for admitting foreign students suspended.
A further two universities – the University of Bedfordshire and University of West London – are no longer allowed to sponsor new students pending further investigations, which will decide whether they too should be suspended.
Immigration enforcement officers have started work to identify migrants in the country illegally as a result of the falsified language tests.