Statement Regarding Press Coverage in the Times & Sunday Times

Statement Regarding Press Coverage in the Times & Sunday Times

6th November 2019

Further to the recent press coverage regarding students from Vietnam being trafficked by criminal gangs abusing the Tier 4 sponsorship route, Bosworth Independent College would like to state its position.

We are not and never have been complicit in the trafficking of young people. We are accredited by the Independent Schools Inspectorate and adhere to the terms of our Tier 4 Sponsor Licence at all times. We take our Safeguarding responsibilities seriously and strive to look after our valued students to assure that they are safe, comfortable and happy. Our outstanding academic outcomes suggest that we are successful in nurturing well-motivated young people who progress from Bosworth to some of the most highly-ranked universities in the world. We have no links with criminal gangs whose purpose is to bring young people into the UK illegally.

Our student recruitment procedures are and always have been robust, ensuring that only genuine students are offered places to study.

We identify suitable students either by meeting with them overseas, usually with their families and mostly alongside trusted agents with whom we have an established relationship. We work with new agents only once we have carried out due diligence checks and received references from other respected schools who can recommend them. If we cannot meet prospective students in person, we meet with them by video conferencing. At our initial interview, candidates are required to prove their identity and are asked probing questions to ascertain their motivations to study with us, knowledge of their proposed course and their future aspirations. We assess each candidate’s level of spoken English and have written tests too. We require details of past academic achievement and assure ourselves of the UK equivalence of any qualifications they may hold. Our means of identifying suitable students satisfy Sponsorship obligations and we meet compliance fully.

We take our Safeguarding obligations very seriously. We ensure that all staff are safely recruited, as required by our inspectors. Visitors to the college are escorted at all times. Unexpected guests do not have access to students.

In January 2017, a 17-year-old female Vietnamese student disappeared from our care. She had been introduced to us by an agent with whom we had a long-established relationship and whom we know to be trustworthy. The student had studied hard from September to Christmas, completing all homework and making very good progress and friends too. There were no reasons to consider her to be a threat to our Sponsor status. She presented all the characteristics of a genuine student. The UKVI had issued her visa.

Our routine checks as to her holiday arrangements for the Christmas break initially raised concerns in that her family had booked her into inferior accommodation in London. We queried their choice and advised instead that she should return to Vietnam. Having received details of her flight and taken a copy of her ticket for her file, we duly ensured she was escorted to Heathrow. On her return in January, she was met at the airport and escorted back to college, as is routine. There were no reasons to suggest she might soon abscond. She had completed holiday homework and participated well in lessons, as in her first term.

Staff reported the student as a missing person within one hour of her failure to return to her boarding house at the usual time. The college and wider local community searched for her, using all means possible. Bosworth worked closely with the local police and then assisted in the national enquiry that ensued following the disclosure that a number of Vietnamese students had disappeared in similar circumstances from other schools and colleges, victims of organised crime. We fulfilled our Sponsor duties in reporting the matter to the UKVI.

To our enormous sadness, we have no knowledge of what has become of this young woman. Our students and staff were deeply distressed by the incident and continue to long for happy news of her safe whereabouts. We are led to believe that a prosecution is anticipated and that evidence we supplied may have helped in this.

We continue to monitor our policies and procedures to minimise the risk to any student. Our community is recovering slowly from the incident of early 2017 and strives never again to be a victim of organised crime that resulted in the tragic disappearance of a popular and promising young woman who had a bright future ahead of her.