At the end of August, many students from London Metropolitan University faced an unexpected but very real danger. Over 2,000 students face deportation to their countries of origin following the revoking of Metropolitan’s licence to authorise visas for its students.
This revelation follows the discovery of inadequacies in language ability testing, legal right to study in this country and undocumented attendance. The United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA), who first highlighted London Metropolitan’s shortfalls, stated that whilst it would not be possible for the university to continue to sponsor all of these students, a task force has been established to help those students who could find themselves without a place to complete their studies.
London Metropolitan’s ban on foreign student recruitment comes at a difficult time for universities across the countries, when admissions are generally declining and funding is dwindling. Chris Bryant, shadow immigration minister, estimated that foreign students generate over £3 billion for the UK economy.
With this colossal figure in mind, the poor administration must be accounted for by either London Metropolitan or UKBA. The university claimed UKBA’s frequent and erratic change of policy made it both incoherent and difficult to adhere to, but Metropolitan must answer for its inability to correctly register, assess and advise its students.
Although London Metropolitan is the first university to lose its licence altogether, other institutions are sure to be investigated in light of the exposed systemic failures. A Commons committee chaired by Margaret Hodge MP declared that, in 2009 alone, UKBA’s selection process had seen over 40,000 migrants enter the UK through student channels in order to obtain work. Additionally, these failings had sparked “catch-up, continually adjusting the rules and procedures in order to try and tackle abuse”. It was this bureaucratic patch-up that caused confusion within London Metropolitan, giving students an increasingly convoluted set of guidelines to conform to.
In another instance of what some students are perceiving as institutionalised xenophobia, students in London were forced to queue for a single office from 6:30AM onwards to register at the Overseas Visitors Records Office. Some regard this as unnecessary; the UKBA already has all of their details. However, in light of the events concerning London Metropolitan, this responsibility was reassigned to the care of each students’ respective university.
Royal Holloway’s website states that “just over 20% of students are from outside of the European Union”, raising questions over the amount of support they have been given when trudging through the mountain of requisite paperwork. With international students making up much of the university’s community, it is vital that they are properly accommodated.
Immigrations Minister Damian Green made it clear that Britain will continue in welcoming students who not only excel, but those who conform to the immigration rules of this country.