Kevin Brennan, the new further education minister, told the Commons' home affairs committee this week that he would look into restricting the use of the title "college".
He was pressed on what the Government was doing to clamp down on bogus colleges, some of which have been exposed as securing study visas for economic migrants and people who may pose a threat to national security. Mr Brennan said the list of institutions approved by the UK Border Agency to employ migrants or sponsor students from outside Europe already made it hard for them to operate. He said there was a case to be considered for extending these powers to cover colleges that recruit within Europe.
David Winnick, Labour MP for Walsall North, asked whether accreditation was the best way to guard against bogus institutions.
Mr Brennan said there was a need to look urgently at "the extent to which there is a case to be made for registering or accrediting institutions offering courses".
Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, asked whether the implementation of parts of the 2006 Companies Act this autumn could provide an opportunity to restrict the use of the title "college".
Mr Brennan said: "It doesn't seem logical that the term `university' should be protected but that the term `college' should not . So what I can say to the committee is that I will undertake to look at this again in the context of the 2006 Companies Act."
He said care would need to be taken to ensure any restrictions on the use of the term did not impinge on schools or other legitimate users.