Indian agencies, including The Hope Consultancy have sent about a hundred students to Sweden over the past few months. The majority of these never showed up for classes. Most of those who did attend a course disappeared after the first few lessons.
A Migration Board representative explains that the students in most cases never intended to study in Sweden.
“Two years ago the Indian agents found a new way into Schengen. They monitored Swedish educational companies. Before that there were no third level courses for Indian students in Sweden,” said Kent Sjöholm.
“It was the dishonest agents and their sub-agents who decided which students to send here.”
The swindle has hit a number of Swedish colleges. The Stockholm-based Travel Education Centre, for example, was supposed to receive 42,000 kronor per student. The Hope Consultancy however only paid half that sum, informing the Travel Education Centre that the rest would be paid by the students on arrival.
But before leaving India the students had already paid the full amount, and much more besides, to the agency. The school meanwhile expected 23 Indian students to participate in a 40 week Travel and Tourism course. Only eight showed up for roll call, four of whom disappeared in the early weeks of the course.
The head of the college, Lars Karlberg, says the he has no idea what became of the students. But he did receive an e-mail from one of them.
“We have major problems and are fighting for our future,” the student wrote.
One of the students, who actually completed his course in Gävle, gives his version of events.
“The ones who remained in Sweden performed various black market services. One transported clothes, others worked for cleaning companies.”
Many of the students did not speak a word of English. Their sole aim was to make it into the Schengen zone and either begin seeking employment or make contact with relatives in Europe.
The migration board has made an informal decision not to grant any more visas to Indian students for third level courses.
The Swedish Embassy in Delhi, which has been inundated with applications for courses in Sweden, plans to interview all potential students from now on to find out whether they speak English.