Scottish University’s Filipino Students safe as their sponsor’s Tier 4 status has been restored by the UK Border Agency just weeks after their licence to recruit overseas students was suspended.
In a very short space of time, the Home Office or UK Border Agency (UKBA) has reinstated the highly prized license which allows education establishments, such as Glasgow Caledonian University, sponsor foreign students to study in the UK.
Balita Pinoy reported that the move by the UKBA stunned the university’s management.
Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) had been told 3 weeks ago that its license, in reality known as the Tier 4 Highly Trusted Sponsor status, was being withdrawn by the UKBA, and that the university had 28 days to show good cause why the license should not be withdrawn permanently.
The university had approximately 140 non-EU Tier 4 students studying on a nursing course, most of whom are Filipinos. What appeared to be the crux of the UKBA’s original complaint had been that the students were breaching the hours they are permitted to undertake paid employment as part of their tuition process. This was not in fact the case Balita Pinoy reported.
The problem in effect was that UKBA had been under the impression that the students were not actually studying. In fact GCU were utilising their on-line tuition system for students – distance learning.
This anomaly has now been resolved, and all students will have to study at the campus for 50% of their course work.
Despite the breach, the UK Border Agency has reinstated Glasgow Caledonian University’s Tier 4 Highly Trusted Sponsor status with immediate effect with no downgrade or sanction.
An insider at the university who wished to remain anonymous told Balita Pinoy that ‘the UKBA’s original suspension decision had been disproportionate, and that they had clearly shown that the university were not in the business of breaking immigration laws’.
This follows the university’s full co-operation with the UK Border Agency in addressing concerns specific to a group of international students on its BSc Nursing Professional Development programme.
GCU’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Pamela Gillies said:
“Our strong international reputation is very important to us and we are grateful for the support and endorsement we received from students, staff, friends and partners as we moved through this process. We are pleased but not surprised by the reinstatement and look forward to delivering our range of exciting plans for the future.
“This has been a challenging time for our university and we have worked swiftly and constructively with the UKBA.
“The agency has commended us for the way in which we responded to the situation and we are keen to work together with them to share this experience with the sector so that others may avoid this process”.
Balita Pinoy contacted the Home Office for a statement and Acting Chief Executive of the UK Border Agency Jonathan Sedgwick said:
“I can confirm that the suspension of Glasgow Caledonian University’s Tier four licence has been lifted. We had legitimate concerns which the University has worked with us to address and we are now satisfied they are complying with our rules.
“Highly Trusted Sponsors must ensure that students are attending the course for which they are enrolled. The UK Border Agency takes compliance very seriously and carries out regular checks. We retain the right to suspend a sponsor’s licence where we find evidence they are not fulfilling their duties”. Source: Balita Pinoy
Despite recent changes, the UK still has a simple, transparent points based system (PBS) for student visa applications.
In the UK, all a student has to do is gain 40 points (and demonstrate a relatively low level of English language capability) under the streamlined and transparent ’Points Based System’, 30 of which comes from a Tier 4 licensed Sponsoring educational provider (which can be checked on the Tier 4 Sponsors Register) and 10 by demonstrating sufficient funds, and a student visa is virtually guaranteed.
British Embassy Visa Sections take a matter of weeks or days to grant a UK student visas (which can be obtain by applying online), rather than months for some countries, and rarely involve an interview. Almost 300,000 student visas were granted in 2010 for UK Universities, Colleges and private Schools and the sector is worth billions to the British economy.
International students studying at Universities and government colleges will retain the right to work part time up to 20 hours per week and full time during vacations.
The UK is also a multi-cultural, tolerant society where migrants and students will find a safe environment in which to study or work.