Thousands of overseas students face expulsion as UK varsity loses visa status

Published: August 30, 2012
Placards are pictured during a demonstration outside 10 Downing Street in London against the British governments decision to strip the London Metropolitan University of its right to sponsor visas for overseas students. PHOTO: AFP

Placards are pictured during a demonstration outside 10 Downing Street in London against the British governments decision to strip the London Metropolitan University of its right to sponsor visas for overseas students. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON: The British government has stripped a London university of its right to sponsor visas for overseas students, leaving thousands of students facing possible deportation.

London Metropolitan University had its Highly Trusted Status – which allowed it to sponsor visas for students from outside the European Union – revoked by the UK Border Agency on Wednesday over alleged failings in its procedures.

The move means current overseas students have 60 days to enrol on a course elsewhere, with more than 2,000 students 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, which was estimated last year to be worth $22.2 billion.

Almost 300,000 non-EU foreign 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.”

Immigration minister Damian Green told BBC radio that after an audit lasting six months, the Border Agency found “a serious systemic failure where it appears that the university doesn’t have the capacity to be a proper sponsor”.

He said that a quarter of students there lacked permission to stay in the country, while there was insufficient evidence that students spoke English and no proof that half of those enrolled had been attending lectures.

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

The government had formed a task force to assist current students whose visas are set to be revoked, he added.

The NUS labelled the move political, linking it with promised immigration quotas brought in by Prime Minister David Cameron’s government.

It said it had contacted Cameron 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 in the top 20 British recruiters of international students, with 6,000 EU and non-EU overseas students in 2010-11, according to government figures.

It said it was working closely with bodies including the Border Agency to try to resolve the problems.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Yaida M
    Aug 30, 2012 - 8:22PM

    I feel for the genuine students who ponied up the money to study in this university.


  • Vikas
    Aug 30, 2012 - 9:26PM

    3/4 of Pakistanis want to leave their country. That’s okay. But why go illegally anywhere. Why don’t they go to Muslim Ummah.


  • Ali
    Aug 30, 2012 - 9:41PM

    I don’t understand why the government here allows so many charlatans to run ‘Foreign Education’ businesses here.


  • anwar
    Aug 30, 2012 - 10:54PM

    Nothing more worthless that meaningless education


  • Asad
    Aug 30, 2012 - 11:01PM

    @Vikas: More indian students want to leave their ‘shining india’ why don’t they stay there? Look at any fake uni/college in US/UK/Aus… you are bound to find more indian students there..Recommend

  • Nauman
    Aug 30, 2012 - 11:37PM

    @Asad: Indians don’t hate the west. Pakistanis generally do.
    Indians generally love the west and they settle into the culture very, very well. Pakistanis don’t.
    – a Pakistani


  • Sir King Kong Bunty
    Aug 31, 2012 - 3:37AM

    Most of the Pakistani students I have seen in the UK did everything but study (though there were exceptions)


  • Asif
    Aug 31, 2012 - 4:20AM

    Have you actually been outside of India to see what breed and number of indians are exported? Don’t glorify India too much. I bet the ratio of 3/4 is gonna be the same for Indians as well.


  • Adeel
    Aug 31, 2012 - 5:40AM

    Not really, i went to Canada as a student and now employed there. I think I am pretty integrated into the society here.
    Don’t write about something you know nothing about.


  • Randomstranger
    Aug 31, 2012 - 7:42AM


    Actually, there are more Indians in Muslim countries than Pakistanis. If Indians hate muslims so much, then why don’t they go back to shining India from Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE?


    Generalizations are for the ignorant.


  • asma
    Aug 31, 2012 - 8:41AM

    Please don’t include Australia in your analysis. Australian has a heavily regulated industry with world class tertiary courses!


  • FU
    Aug 31, 2012 - 9:45AM

    @Asif First answer the question. You have to pretend as Indians in US to get jobs, that is your reputation.


  • Malatesh
    Aug 31, 2012 - 11:42AM

    @Vikas, @Asad

    Either Pakistani OR Inidian.. Nobody should use backdoor channels to immigrate which affects genuine students and immigrants.

    We have seen the results of illigal immigration when Afghans started entering Pakistan illigally. OR when Bangladeshi enter India from illigal channels.


  • jism
    Aug 31, 2012 - 2:11PM

    guys, please stop this India Pakistan debate,there are lot many forums to discuss or rant over,now let this discussion die down here.


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