Bogus schools and colleges are to be targeted in a new drive to bring down the number of fake students being given visas to come to the UK.
Language schools obtaining foreign student visas will face inspections
A registration scheme is to be replaced from 2009 by a requirement that private colleges outside the public review system obtain formal accreditation.
They will also be expected to report students failing to attend classes.
It follows concerns that some language schools have acted as a front for people working illegally.
About 300,000 foreign students are registered in the UK each year.
A minority are thought to get their visas through bogus language schools taking money for largely non existent courses.
The Association of Colleges has been pressing ministers to tighten up the rules amid concerns the existing registration scheme had been "wide open for abuse".
Colleges will now be required to register with the Home Office as "sponsors" of their international students and prove they are genuine educational establishments.
Ministers are advising unaccredited institutions to seek accreditation by one of three approved academic bodies before the new rules come into effect.
Some foreign institutions offering only part of their programmes in the UK will be excluded from the requirement.
Higher education minister Bill Rammell said: "These improvements will mean we are better equipped to protect the UK against those individuals and colleges who want to misuse the student route of entry to this country.
"We are also able to offer international students the assurance that they are applying to trustworthy and good quality learning institutions in the UK".
The new rules form a part of the UK's new points-based system for managing migration.