The UK Border Agency (UKBA) revoked London Metropolitan University’s ‘highly trusted sponsor’ status. This means that London Met is no longer able bring in non-EU students into the UK to study under the ‘Tier 4’ visa scheme.
Students currently studying at London Met will have their visas withdrawn: at least 2000 face deportation within 60 days of official notification, unless they can find another sponsor. Effectively they must find a place on another course at another institution.
The UK Border Authority have justified their actions as being due to inadequate record keeping by the London Met administration who had failed to ensure overseas students had adequate English levels and were attending lectures. Universities themselves are now required to ‘police; overseas students in the UK. London Met claim their have been 14 changes in the requirements over the past few years and are seeking a judicial review of the withdrawal of their license.
London Met is seen by many of having been caught in a dispute between the English government’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) which has responsibility for higher education and keen to promote the sector as an export successes (to which fees from overseas students make up a large contribution) and Theresa May, Home Secretary,who is bound by David Cameron’s pledge to reduce net immigration to the ‘tens of thousands’.
London Met is seen as an easy target, given its long running reputation for poor management.
Yet there may be a more sinister aim. According to wonkhe: “Only last week, exaro news broke the story that London Met had issued a tender for a management consultancy to take over the running of all university activities besides teaching and the vice-chancellor himself.”
Without funding from overseas student London Met University is very likely to go bankrupt. And with the government seemingly committed to privatisation of universities this could be their big opportunity to welcome a private takeover of a major London university, presented as saving the institution.
Sounds like conspiracy theory (See Martin Weller’s blog for more on this)? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t put anything past this Tory government.