Government owned London Metropolitan University is to lose its Tier 4 Sponsors licence to teach non-EU foreign students, it has been reported, becoming the first UK university to be stripped of its Highly Trusted Sponsor status by the UK Border Agency, the Sunday Times claims.
Malcolm Gillies, the university’s vice-chancellor, told The Sunday Times that the decision would have an “immense” impact on London Met and its partners, warning that the students affected would include those already enrolled.
“Their surprise, shock and concern will be huge, and we shall work with them to ensure they have the widest range of options to continue their studies, either in the UK or elsewhere,” he said.
Professor Gillies added that the university was “immensely disappointed” by the news, stating that it had done everything it could to demonstrate its fitness to continue educating overseas students since the UKBA suspended its highly trusted status six weeks ago.
The border agency’s decision, which has not yet been formally announced but has been leaked to the Sunday Times, follows an audit of London Met earlier this month.
Its inspectors reportedly concluded that students were “continuing to study at [London Met] without valid leave [visas] despite the university having reassured us that this issue had been rectified”.
They also found that the university had failed to report students who had secured study visas but had not turned up for courses, as well as shortcomings in the testing of English language skills and academic ability and records.
London Met is the first UK university or government institution to have its highly trusted status revoked, although two others – Glasgow Caledonian University and Teesside University – have previously had their licences suspended and then quickly reinstated.
Although the university is entitled to appeal against the UKBA’s decision, and will be able to reapply for Highly Trusted Sponsor status in six months, the damage to its reputation is irreparable.
If London Metropolitan University was a publically quoted ‘PLC’ company its share price would be going down faster than Facebook.
This is because much of the university’s income depends on foreign students and no student in their right mind is going to risk £9000 in fees on a provider which has been suspended, let alone revoked.
In this case it’s not shareholders who will lose money, but the UK taxpayer that will foot the bill for lost income and possible job losses.
Private college owners may argue that the university is only getting a dose of the same treatment they received when hundreds of their businesses were destroyed.
Many have already have a student visa, having received a CAS from the university prior to the suspension, and are ready to travel.
If the university’s licence had been reinstated, their student’s would be safe. But if the licence is revoked all their Tier 4 student’s visas will be cancelled by the UKBA, which will give them 60 days to find another provider or get out of the UK.
A student visa is no longer transferable to another college or university, following one of the raft of UKBA restrictions designed to deter so called ‘bogus’ students.
This means that, like thousands of others studying at private colleges effectively put out of business by the UKBA, London Met students will have to apply for a new student visa, which will only be granted if they continue to qualify.
Geoffrey Alderman writing for the Guardian says high fees plus the prohibition of any part-time working by international students at private colleges have ensured the dramatic contraction of the multi-billion pound industry.
A cross-party group of British Members of Parliament (MPs) last month said that overseas students should be excluded from net migration figures which the government has pledged to slash.
The revocation is not yet official and has been dismissed by the university, which, unlike private colleges has a powerful lobby, not least in the Department of Education which will oppose Home Office action.
Should the UKBA press ahead with a Tier 4 revocation of a government UK university it will send out an extremely negative message to the multi-billion pound international student market. The damage to Britain’s reputation abroad will be incalculable as no institution will be safe.
The UKBA’s suspension and possible revocation of a state owned institution leads some to ask whether the agency is acting in the best interests of the country?
If you need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed down, Visa, ILR, Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a UK Border Agency or British Embassy refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email:
Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.
For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email email@example.com
It doesn’t matter where you come from – UK, Europe or anywhere else in the world, it is important to ensure that your qualifications are recognised. In the UK there is a national agency that carries out this service, they are called UK NARIC.