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UKBA revokes London Metropolitan University's Highly Trusted Status for sponsoring international students


Up to 3,000 non-EU students may have to leave the UK within 60 days as London Met loses its visa licence

Date of Publication:
30 August 2012

UKBA revokes London Metropolitan University's Highly Trusted Status for sponsoring international students

30 August 2012

London Metropolitan University's (LMU) visa licence for sponsoring international students has been revoked, BBC News reported today.

LMU posted a message on its website saying: "The University regrets to announce that as at 8pm on Wednesday 29th August 2012, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has revoked its Highly Trusted Status for sponsoring international students."

The message added that the implications of the revocation are hugely significant and far-reaching, and the University has already started to deal with these.

Students affected by the UKBA decision are advised to ring the LMU hotline on +44 (0) 20 7133 4141.

According to BBC News, the decision leaves more than 2,000 undergraduates potentially facing deportation within 60 days unless they find another sponsor.

The Guardian put the number at nearly 3,000 and said the university's vice-chancellor has warned that the decision to revoke its licence to take non-EU students would create a £30m loss.

The National Union of Students (NUS) said the decision would create panic and potential heartbreak for students not just at LMU but also all around the country.

The president of the NUS was quoted by the Guardian as saying: "Politicians need to realise that a continued attitude of suspicion towards international students could endanger the continuation of higher education as a successful export industry. This heavy-handed decision makes no sense for students, no sense for institutions and no sense for the country. This situation and the botched process by which the decision was arrived at could be avoided if international students were not included in statistics of permanent migrants."

A UKBA spokesman told BBC News that LMU's licence to sponsor non-EU students was revoked after it failed to address serious and systemic failings that were identified six months ago.

The spokesman said allowing LMU to continue to sponsor and teach international students was not an option after the most recent audit revealed problems with over half of the randomly sampled files.

The spokesman added that the problems identified were with one university and not the sector as a whole.

According to the Daily Telegraph, immigration minister Damian Green told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the university had proved to be a "very, very deficient" sponsor because of alleged breaches over right to stay, proficiency in English, and attendance.

"Any one of those breaches would be serious ... We found all three of those breaches at London Metropolitan. What we found here is a serious systemic failure where it appears that the university doesn't have the capacity to be a proper sponsor and to have confidence that the students coming have the right to be here in the first place," Green was quoted as saying.

The Telegraph reported that Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the move could harm Britain's reputation as a prime destination for higher education, saying the UKBA decision had left "thousands of students in limbo" at the "worst possible time".