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University of Wales degree and visa scam exposed by BBC

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A scam exposed by BBC Wales in which overseas students are helped to cheat their way to University of Wales-validated degrees and visas is being investigated by the UK Border Agency.

Students are sold diplomas exempting them from work for MBAs, which then entitles them to apply for a UK visa.

Two staff at Rayat London College have been suspended and the registrar has resigned.

The University of Wales would not comment on the scam allegations.

Earlier this week it said it is to stop validating other institutions' degrees.

UK Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "It's fraud - it's clearly trying to create and exploit a loophole in the immigration system.

"Obviously we're aware of the investigations that you've been undergoing (at BBC Wales).

"If people are committing scams then they should be worried - we're after them."

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

You are not really bothered about what you are going to write but these things will in future prove very costly so at least remember the subjects”

Surya Medicherla Lecturer, addressing students at Lampton College, London

Meanwhile the Welsh Liberal Democrats have expressed their "frustration and disappointment" that a request for an urgent question in the Senedd, calling on the education minister to make a statement on the matter, has been refused.

Aled Roberts, shadow education minister, said: "The issue of overseas students who are cheating their way into University of Wales accredited colleges to obtain visas is a matter that warrants urgent discussion."

Exam exemptions

Special two-year work permits for all overseas graduates in the UK are being phased out in April and foreign students are being tempted by offers to fraudulently obtain degrees before the deadline.

Undercover footage suggests students at the Rayat London College are being offered the chance to enrol on express MBA courses using fraudulent diplomas to ensure exemptions from much of the work.

BBC Wales' Week In Week Out programme has obtained evidence of plans to offer students advanced sight of an official University of Wales exam paper.

Covert filming shows one lecturer, Surya Medicherla, giving students tips on how to cheat in exams and how to deceive the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

In the footage, he warned the students not to be complacent about the agency.

"In some corners of your heart you are so happy because you are not studying anything but you are getting your PGD (postgraduate diploma)," he said.

"You are not really bothered about what you are going to write but these things will in future prove very costly so at least remember the subjects.

"Just please be careful, just getting the PSW (post study work visa) does not mean that we have fooled the UKBA - no, they are quite intelligent - they are more intelligent than what we are."

Mr Medicherla told BBC Wales it was never his intention to show students how to cheat.

The registrar of Rayat London College, Irvin Harris, is also co-director of the exam qualifications awarding company Professional Qualifications Management (PQM) Limited.

The programme has evidence that his scam would include an offer to hold examinations in which students can cheat in order to complete a 15-month qualification in under a week.

Mr Harris denies any allegations of wrongdoing, saying that he never encouraged anyone to cheat and was not responsible for the conduct of Mr Medicherla.


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