Last year Belgium issued 9,011 student visas, but 2,074 applicants heard that they had been turned down. Last year there were 901 student visa applications from China, 584 from the US and 529 from Turkey, but a staggering 1,949 from bilingual Cameroon. 881 Chinese students were successful, 571 Americans and 462 Turks. 826 Cameroonians also received a student visa, but Mr Francken says that many applications from this country included fraudulent diplomas.
The Institut français in the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé that already vetted applications for France will now also screen applications for Belgium. How well equipped the institut is to vet applications from Cameroonians whose native tongue is English is unclear. The screening will occur in close co-operation with the Belgian immigration department.
On his blog Mr Francken writes: "In this way we are markedly stepping up the fight against migration fraud and we are ensuring that Cameroonian students who do get a visa have a greater chance of succeeding allowing them to contribute to their economy on their return."