Abingdon and Witney College stripped of sponsor status

Abingdon and Witney College
Image caption The college has applied for the status to be returned

An Oxfordshire college has been stripped of its highly trusted sponsor status, the Home Office has revealed.

It comes as part of a crackdown on education courses exploited by illegal immigrants.

Abingdon and Witney College lost the endorsement following an investigation by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) into a male Zimbabwean student.

Principal Teresa Kelly blamed the status' removal on a technical breach of Home Office rules.

When officials find discrepancies with a third of students enrolled at a college they can remove the highly trusted endorsement.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said it was among 33 further education colleges stripped of their status since September 2010.

'Made an error'

The college said as it had just three students out of 11,500 from outside the European Union, it meant a problem with one led to the status being stripped.

Miss Kelly said: "If you make an error with a third of your students then you automatically have the trusted status withdrawn.

"We have got three students and we made an error with one."

Ms Kelly said "too earnest" tutors moved the student to an easier module so he could pass a course, but they failed to tell the Home Office, technically breaching the rules.

She admitted: "We should have asked permission."

Ms Kelly said the college had applied for the status to be returned and she believed there was "no reason" why the application should be refused.

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