Inner-city colleges are hiring guards to stop drug-pushers, vandals and trouble-makers entering campuses and clean up the image of post-school education.
The latest to adopt the tactics - first taken up by the community colleges of Chicago in the 1970s - is South Birmingham College. Seven staff, who dress and operate more like nightclub bouncers than security guards, check every car entering the Hall Green site.
South Birmingham excluded 40 students last year. But the principal Alan Birks said: "We have 18,000 students, so 40 exclusions isn't a very big percentage. "
Others who have taken radical action include Sheffield. Guards were recruited after computer thieves made off with Pounds 100,000 worth of computer equipment.
South Birmingham has so far been free of very serious incidents, said Mr Birks. "But this is an inner-city college where students have a different approach to life from posh middle-class students.
"As the college has grown it's become a more attractive place for criminal elements like drugs pushers. We want to keep out everybody except bona fide students and staff."
The guards have been welcomed by students. Business studies student Victoria Fielding, 29, said: "I used to dread coming to the college.
"I told my friends not to come here and was ashamed to admit that I did. But now I love it."