Canada’s ‘soft’ approach to tackling student visa fraud makes it the most susceptible to corruption out of the top nations for international study, a new report has concluded.
The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education study says the power of Canada’s provinces to approve degree-awarding institutions makes it significantly more difficult to regulate potential law-breakers.
Rachael Merola’s paper, entitled ‘Combating Student Visa Fraud: Top Destination Countries Employ Diverse Strategies’, compares methods for fighting corruption employed in the US, UK, Australia and Canada.
She finds that Canada, which does not monitor students after they have arrived, is ‘especially susceptible to fraud’, a fact that has already had an impact on the international reputation of the country.
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“The fact [Canada] is one of the top study destinations for [international] students, coupled by the fact [universities] are overseen provincially, makes it especially susceptible to fraud, because there’s less ability to regulate across the entire country,” Merola said.
“The Chinese government warned their own students that there are some unscrupulous operators … in Canada, so there is an impact in terms of the attractiveness of the country as a study destination when there are a lot of cases of student visa fraud.”
Attempts to tackle fraud in Canada include limiting student visas to approved institutions. But allowing the provinces grant degree-awarding power makes it difficult to regulate.
Merola says it’s time for all of the parties involves to work together to proactively weed out the fraudsters, instead of the reactionary policies currently employed.
The highest profile global case came when it was discovered one of the 9/11 hijackers had entered the US on a student visa.
As a result, the US has tightened security in the area, including at one point creating a fake university as a honey trap for fraudulent agents looking to draw in potential overseas students.
While this policy was a success, Merola says enforcement agencies need to move with the times to create a strategy that can adapt to the new methods of fraudulent individuals.
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