JUBAIL, SAUDI ARABIA: Betrayed, disheartened, disgusted and petrified — this is how most of those over 2,000 non-EU undergraduate students of London Metropolitan University feel about the UK Border Agency’s (UKBA) orders to revoke the university’s licence to teach non-EU overseas students.
The result means that within the next 60 days the non-EU overseas students will have to find alternative institutions to sponsor them or face deportation to their home countries. The UK Border Agency and the London Metropolitan University are in disagreement on enrolment of students with visa issues or whether the varsity has been lax in monitoring the attendance record of its foreign students, but surely that should not mean punishing the students who have abided by all the rules and regulations.
No one will question the authorities’ right to stop illegal immigrants entering the UK disguised as students but that should not mean endangering the future of genuine students who have already spent thousands of pounds on their studies — especially since many may be in their final year or semester of studies. It is obvious that finding another university for studying within 60 days and arranging the requisite finances will be a next-to-impossible task for most of these students.
What is equally shocking is that the UKBA made this decision based on a random sampling of around a couple of hundred university’s students. Such sampling may be effective for stock market trades or horse racing but not on human beings. I would urge the British education and UKBA authorities to look into this matter and let the genuine students continue their education at London Metropolitan University. They should be given a chance to prove their genuineness as students and if they can’t, then the 60-day limit should be applicable to them.
One suspects that this is just the beginning of what can easily become a controversial issue in the UK. In the past, many universities have been accused of issuing foreign student visas and not ensuring that these students actually enrolled, other than paying a hefty admission fee. Foreign students from non-EU states who apply to British universities now need to be especially careful in future — this would include thousands of students who apply every year to universities there.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2012.