London Metropolitan University has lodged a legal challenge to obtain an injunction against the UK Border Agency today, urging judges to suspend a ban on its recruitment of overseas non-EU Tier 4 students.
Last month the UK Border Agency revoked the university’s Tier 4 sponsors licence stripping the government owned institution of its right to sponsor students for UK visas.
They agency allege that the university had not being carrying proper checks on students, charges which are strongly denied by the university.
Lawyers acting for the university told London’s High Court the ban should be lifted in the ‘interest of fairness’, while they sought a judicial review to overturn the revocation.
About 2,600 people registered as international students at the university have to find alternative courses by the start of December – and face being deported if they do not.
The UK Border Agency is cracking down on alleged abuse of the student visa system and London Met is the first university to lose its right to sponsor students from outside of the European Union for their visas.
It said the university had failed to address “serious failings” in its system which had been identified more than six months ago.
At the High Court in London, Mr Justice Irwin heard a plea from the university’s lawyers for the ban to be suspended while they seek a legal ruling known as a judicial review, with the aim of over-turning the decision.
This would mean the existing students could continue on their courses, as the revocation would be ‘stayed’ should an injunction be granted or its status be reverted back to ‘suspended’.
Richard Gordon, for London Met, told the court the issue “came down to fairness”.
He said there was a strong case that the UKBA’s decision was unlawful and a temporary injunction should be granted, given the impact of the decision on the university and its students.
“The financial impact on the university, and on its reputation and good will, are enormous,” he said.
“The impact on students’ education, financial position and the disruption to their lives is extremely significant,” he said.
The university says the decision could cost it up to £30m a year. Students from outside of the European Union can pay tuition fees sometimes twice as high as those paid by UK or EU students.
In legal discussions before formal evidence was given, Mr Justice Irwin told the court the interests of the students needed to be taken in to account.
And referring to students whose visa status was in order, he said: “I would be interested in respect of such students whether a concession could be made”.
That was not a legal ruling however. One is now expected later this afternoon.
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) took away the university’s “highly trusted status” – meaning it can no longer recruit students from outside the European Union – in a crackdown on alleged abuse of the student visa system.
Overseas students staying more than a year count in the migration figures and the government has pledged to cut net migration to “tens of thousands”.
The UK Border Agency has insisted the decision to revoke the sponsor licence was correct, saying the university had failed to address “serious failings” in its system.
In a sample of 101 students, it said, more than a quarter had no permission to be in the UK, while separate checks showed there was no proper evidence that some students spoke good enough English to be given a student visa.
Criticism was also made of the university’s attendance checks.
The London Met vice-chancellor Professor Malcolm Gillies has rejected the claims, saying there was no evidence of systemic failings and that the decision to take away the university’s “highly trusted status” was based on “a highly flawed report by the UKBA”.
The National Union of Students has asked to give evidence at the High Court, saying the case has huge implications for international students in the UK and others thinking about coming to Britain to study.
Last week the government pledged £2m to help the students. A “task force” has been set up to help them find alternative courses.
Genuine students have 60 days to make a new application or to arrange to leave the UK, but the countdown starts when UKBA writes to them and no letters will be sent out until October 1. Source: BBC.
London Metropolitan University is going through the same process as many private colleges owners who tried to save their companies.
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:
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