Financial crime experts have raised concern about the number of universities in the UK which accept cash payments from students from countries with high money-laundering risks.

The Times newspaper today has published figures showing 49 British universities allowed students to pay fees totalling £52million with bank notes.

The investigation, based on Freedom of Information Act disclosures, shows £7.7million was paid by Chinese students, followed by £1.8m from India, £1.5million from students in Nigeria and £1.2million from people in Pakistan.

Matthew Page, associate fellow of the Chatham House think tank, said: “Any educational establishment that accepts cash payments is essentially putting out a welcome mat for the world’s kleptocrats and money launderers.

“Unviersities that accept cash are at high risk of laundering the proceeds of crime, corruption and other illicit activities.”

Chris Greany, a former UK national police co-ordinator for countering economic crime, said: “Cash-based payments need proper scrutiny and accountability but there is no good reason for them at all”

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