With universities now having strict rules to adhere to in order to maintain their status as foreign-student sponsors, the number of reports over suspicious student visas has been increasing.
Figures released to the Manifesto Club campaign group under the Freedom of Information Act showed that more than 1,500 foreign students are being reported every month to the UK Border Agency.
The Manifesto Club, a group that campaigns against regulation and supports free movement across borders, said that the strict visa controls mean that academic bodies feel forced to spy on their students, ultimately ruining relationships between students and teachers.
The current visa system forces universities and colleges to report prolonged absences by foreign students, as well as any other behaviour they regard as suspicious, in order to maintain their 'Highly Trusted sponsor' status.
Between March 2009 and March 2010, 35,289 incidents were reported to the UKBA.
The Manifesto Club, in their report Students Under Watch, claimed it was "difficult to imagine" that so many students were fraudulently acquiring visas and then absconding and disappearing in the UK. Rather, the incidents involved students simply skiving off lectures or failing to reply to emails.
The report said: "It therefore seems that universities are acting nervously, in part because of the vagueness of their duties."
Manifesto Club director Josie Appleton said: "Academics are not border agents, and they should not be dragooned into spying on their students.
"The UKBA now has rights of entry to any university campus, which is a major threat to academic autonomy. We call for a more proportionate system, which recognises the historic autonomy of the university."
Government plans to rush through reforms on increasing student visa restrictions have been criticised as being harmful to the economy.
Since the most common reason for migrants coming to the UK is for study, it is estimated that £3.6 billion could be lost through tuition fees, visa fees and the money spent by students and their dependants who would be prevented from entering the country.
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