Thousands of International Students in the UK Face Deportation After University Loses Visa Status


Thousands of International Students in the UK Face Deportation After University Loses Visa Status

Thousands of International Students in the UK Face Deportation After University Loses Visa StatusThousands of overseas students on Thursday faced possible deportation from Britain after the government stripped a London university of its right to sponsor their visas.

Amid alarm at the potential damage to the foreign studentmarket in Britain — worth an estimated £14 billion (17.7 billion euros, $22.2 billion) — the government rushed to reassure foreign students that it was an isolated case.

London Metropolitan University had its Highly Trusted Status — which allowed it to sponsor visas for students from outside the EU — revoked by the UK Border Agency on Wednesday following a six-month audit.

The agency said the university had “failed to address serious and systemic failings”.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said inspections had shown that students’ English fell short of the necessary standards and that the university had failed to monitor if studentswere turning up for classes or not.

Other checks had shown that more than a quarter of the students at the university who were checked in a random sample lacked the necessary permission to remain in Britain.

Green told BBC radio that the Border Agency had found “a serious systemic failure where it appears that the university doesn’t have the capacity to be a proper sponsor”.

But he sought to reassure prospective students that “this will not be replicated across theuniversity sector”.

The move means current overseas students have 60 days to enrol on a course elsewhere, with more than 2,000 facing deportation if they fail to find another university, according to the National Union of Students (NUS).

The union warned of “catastrophic” effects on Britain’s industry for educating students from overseas — almost 300,000 non-EU students were enrolled in Britain in the 2010-11 academic year.

The university said on its website: “The implications of the revocation are hugely significant and far-reaching… Our absolute priority is to our students, both current and prospective, and the University will meet all its obligations to them.”

Its vice-chancellor Malcolm Gillies described the accusations against the institution as “not particularly cogent” and said it would challenge the government’s decision.

Professor Eric Thomas, President of Universities UK, said a taskforce had been set to up to attempt to place the students affected with other universities.

“Our first priority is to support the international students affected by this action to ensure that, wherever possible, they can stay in the UK and continue their studies,” he said.

Campaign groups claim that student visas have become the “back door” to Britain, especially for applicants from countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh.

A small group of London Metropolitan University students held a protest outside Prime Minister David Cameron’s Downing Street residence, some with tape over their mouths before police ordered them to move across the street.

The NUS labelled the crackdown on London Metropolitan University — which has 30,000students in total — as political, linking it with promised immigration quotas brought in by Cameron’s government.

It said it had contacted the prime minister to “express anger at the way decisions have been made in recent weeks and to reiterate the potentially catastrophic effects on higher education… as an export industry”.

A Border Agency spokesman said: “The latest audit revealed problems with 61 percent of files randomly sampled. Allowing London Metropolitan University to continue to sponsor and teach international students was not an option.

“These are problems with one university, not the whole sector.”

London Metropolitan is among the top 20 British recruiters of international students, with 6,000 EU and non-EU overseas students in 2010-11, according to government figures.

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