By Mattia Ruaro

London Metropolitan University recently had its licence to sponsor and teach foreign non-EU students revoked, causing all their VISAs to suddenly be invalidated. This decision affects between 2.600 and 3.000 students, who now run the risk of being deported from Britain after the 1st of December if they cannot find another course. Many of these students had already paid their university fees upfront, and are now left pondering an uncertain future.

Foreign Student Passport

The UKBA supported their decision by stating that “a significant proportion” of the students did not have a qualification in English and that “there was a number of system failings” in the checks carried out by the university itself.

London MET responded by attacking the way in which UKBA analysis was carried out, since they apparently ignored “information that was made available to them when they conducted their audit”. In addition, they claim that they were concerned because “the current immigration policy is creating confusion across universities in the country” and because “UKBA requirements have changed substantially – at least 14 times in the last 3 years”.

Foreign students are a significant contribution to the incomes of the British education system, accounting for around £12.5 billion a year, and London MET will especially suffer from this, losing as much as £30 million annual loss to the institution. The Vice-Chancellor of London MET, Malcolm Gillies, criticised what he considers a “highly flawed report by the UKBA” and stated that London MET will “fight this revocation to give top priorities to the interests of international students”.

Is UKBA’s policy in terms of immigration too strict?

Or is it their right to enforce the law on the institutions?

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  • Anette Jakobsen

    The rules for students being allowed residential permits in eg Denmark are weighted in the favour of EU students, but this is a well known policy and not cynical. I think to suddenly make a change like this is cynical and a bad message to the world. This is good article to bring the question into public view.

  • Abdi Kourosh

    I studied in the UK coincidentally in London. It was costly financially but a good experience and made me a friend of Britain. Does Britain not now want friends? I accept that you have the right to regulate the language standards and educational standards of incoming people, but not retrospectively. This seems to me deeply unjust.

  • Ian Hayter

    So we invite these people to study here, we take their money and then we tell them to go home without getting what they paid for? Doesn’t exactly make you feel proud to be British, does it? If LMU’s teaching licence is being revoked then surely they should be allowed to complete the courses of those students who’ve paid for them and are part way through their studies.

  • Martin Geraghty

    Just had another look at David’s Olympics article, eloquently celebrating the best of Britain. Now we see the flipside, a country that makes 14 immigration policy changes in 3 years and holds overseas students harshly accountable to rules that until recently didn’t exist. Excellent, important article Mattia.

  • I agree with those who’ve highlighted the unfairness of retrospective action for students already in this country who’ve paid for a service in good faith. There’s a comparison to be made here with the DWP’s broader approach to changes in visa/permit status. If people entered this country legitimately at the invitation of a reputable institution to carry out an authorised pursuit, and have done exactly that, then the ethics of turfing them out without giving them what they paid for seem highly questionable. And I agree with those who’ve commended the article. It’s eloquent, balanced and fair. Good job, Mattia.

  • Silke Lührmann

    So-called “international students” (i.e. students who have the misfortune of not holding EU passports) are already made to pay significantly higher tuition fees than those from within “Fortress Europe”, and it seems to me that they contribute a great deal to keeping tertiary education going in this country. I think it’s outrageous enough that these students have to report regularly to the authorities to “prove” that they are still studying. The recent decision to revoke London MET’s right to teach them is even more outrageous, and I’d like to see some more protest against it, to compensate for the unfair and unbalanced reporting on this subject in the majority of British media!