London Met University Faces International Student Crisis

At 11pm on August 29th an announcement was made but the UK Boarder Agency that London Metropolitan University has had its Highly Trusted Sponsor Status revoked, and as a result has lost the right to recruit international students to study at the University.

The Background

International students from outside of Europe wanting to study in the UK need a sponsor to obtain a Visa for study, and the sponsor for such students will be their University. Without which they are not allowed in the country.

Over the past few years the UKBA have been set targets by the home office to reduce net migration numbers down dramatically, from 100s to 10s of thousands of people. This in itself is an extremely challenging task, and one with questionable virtue, however international students have long been a target for how to tackle migration, and over the last few years have faced stricter and stricter regulations and monitoring. This has led to the impression that the UK is not a welcoming place for international students when it comes to Education, and is far behind that of its comparator countries. Universities have done their best to tackle this, but they are fighting a truly uphill struggle.

The vast majority of checks on students for the purposes of Visa regulations are carried out by the Universities themselves. There are checks on English standards, academic qualifications, references, attendance, all carried out for every student by the University. In order to be allowed to carry out these checks a University must have a Highly Trusted Status, awarded by the UKBA.

What Happens Now?

With the removal of London Met’s status all international students who were going to attend, are currently here, or are coming back part way through a course will have their Visa revoked, and if in the UK must return to their country within 60 days.

For London Met this means that over 2600 students, just weeks before the start of term, will need to be deported unless they can find another sponsor.

It’s also worth noting that London Met receives around £30million from international student fees, almost 1/5th of their budget, and so to lose that source of income not only risks the futures of the 2600 international students, but all 28,000 students who study there, who will now face a very uncertain future.

How Does This Affect Us?

I’ve blogged about this because I think this is not just an issue for London Met, but one that has a huge impact on the reputation of higher education. No regard has been given for the lives of these students, and the impact of this on the reputation of the UK as a place for students from around the world to come and study. The message this sends is that the UK is closed for business when it comes to higher education; and this message is so wrong. We should be embracing students from other cultures not criminalising and turning them away.

It’s worth noting, to reassure current and future Southampton students, that there is no direct impact on our students, or student Visas, however this is a huge issue when it comes to the landscape of UK higher education as a whole.

What Can We Do?

In order to support London Met, and to send a strong message on the damage this will cause there has been a call to send in case studies of international students from around the UK talking about the impression this will have given how welcoming the UK is to international students, and whether this news would have made people think twice about studying in the UK.


I would be really keen to hear about your thoughts on this, are you an international student? What has been your experience of UKBA? Has anyone studied in other countries and had comparable experiences?

If you’re keen to offer support, and write about your experience please send me an email on


Useful Links:

BBC Article

Statement from University of London Union

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21 Comments on "London Met University Faces International Student Crisis"

  1. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 10:08 am Permalink

    Hi Sam,

    Why did London Met have it’s status revoked?


  2. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 10:12 am Permalink

    Its all a bit vague at the moment. The have been on suspention for while now, and on reinspection the UK BA have said they found a large portion of the reviews files had errors. However they’ve not been clear as to exactly what those were (it could be anything from incorrectly approving references, students undertaking work when there visa wont let them, to students not being who they say they are, so its hard to know how severe the issues were).

  3. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 10:15 am Permalink

    London Met failed “systematically” to follow the procedures set by the UK Border Agency, so its Highly Trusted Status was revoked. Something like 61% of files samples had failed to follow the check ups and other visa requirements. The correct decision, but has typically been made very late in the day and put a large number of prospective 2012 entry students in limbo.
    BBC News link here:

  4. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 10:21 am Permalink

    I think I agree with you there. The biggest issue here, as you say, is how late in the day it was made, and also that it effects students curently part way through their study, rather just the recruitment of new students.

    There is also the concern over the impact of the decision. My instinct is that taking £30,000,000 out of London Mets budget is going to cripple the University, risking the education of over 28,000 students. Given how quiet David Willets has been on this the suspicious side of me would suggest that this is an attempt to have a University fail, in order to provide validation for the new marketised system. I’d also suspect that there will be a private provider waiting in the wings to buy out London met in order to buy themselves into the Higher Education system.

  5. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 11:00 am Permalink

    And this is why you shouldn’t vote Tory…!

    Actively discouraging people to apply to places in the UK (which this kind of is due to the perception), can only be a bad thing. We benefit from the fact international students come over here, pay stupid amounts of money, not jut in fees but in living expenses and then usually they want to stay here, which is great as they add something to our society. I guess the only good thing is that it isn’t somewhere that is incredibly well recognised world over, like the perception of the Russell Group or something.

    Do you think that it is going to happen at more universities across the country Uncle Sam, or do you think it will just be London Met.

  6. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 11:22 am Permalink

    To me this feels like the thin end of the wedge, and politically motivated. I’d also suggest that there is no reason why a Russel group University would be any less likely to be a target if they have not got their systems together. Considering the increasing pressure on Universities financially, and the radical shake up of the system its more and more likely that mistakes were made. Also, if you were a Secretary of State wanting to come across tough on international students I would want to flex my politicle muscle I would want to make a mark by taclking a high profile target, such as a russel group University. Perhaps just my suspicious side though!

  7. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 3:22 pm Permalink

    As an international student who had to go through the mess of even getting a Visa, which was just an awful process, I can tell you that this is really discouraging to me. In my mind, the UK is sending a message that international students might no be welcome soon. On top of that, I was contacted by countless recruiters this year for jobs in the UK. Once they found out I would have to get another visa, they said that it was getting harder and harder for international students to get them. Most of the time we decided not to move forward because I didn’t want to have to spend £1,000 on a visa that I might not need or get! (I think that waste price given to me)

    The thing that screwed me when I was trying to get my Tier 4 was that you aren’t able to talk to anyone inside the UKBA. I got an email or letter saying my visa was rejected on a technicality about 3 days before I was supposed to leave. After not getting a response from them I finally figured out why it was rejected, put the papers together and gave them to my dad who works a block away from the UKBA in NYC. When he got there he was told that they couldn’t accept it because it had to be posted to them. He asked if he could speak to the person who informed me I was rejected and he was told that no one is allowed to talk to them. He had to run downstairs to the FedEx office and overnight the papers TO THE SAME DAMN BUILDING!

    I’m happy I don’t have to deal with the UKBA anymore!

  8. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 3:37 pm Permalink

    Thats an absolutely appauling story Paul. Would you be happy to send me an email about that as it would be good to send your experience on to people building a base of evidence on how the UKBA is putting off students coming to the UK.

    I hope you had a good experience once you got here!

  9. Sam
    31/08/2012 at 3:32 am Permalink

    Sure thing Sam!

    Going to Southampton was hands down the best decision I ever made. I just hope that future students can experience what I experienced without being deterred by the UKBA!

  10. Sam
    13/09/2012 at 2:20 pm Permalink

    I had a similar experience as Paul’s with the UKBA office in NYC. Their service is appalling and there’s little to no communication between them and the local embassies/consulates. Feel free to drop me a line!

  11. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 4:17 pm Permalink

    While I agree with the majority of what has been said, I think it’s worth noting that everyone seems to be giving the University a free ride here, that they are merely victims of political machinations. While I’m sure they are and agree this is a worrying occurrence why are we only having a go at the authorities when London Met has massively failed it’s international students by not following procedures properly.

    It may have been confusing or difficult to follow the changes in HE and how they affect things, but when there’s £30m of your funding on the line and the welfare of of over 2600 students, you should damn well make sure you’re doing things right. London Met has been a victim to some extent, yes, but it has also let down it’s international students hugely by not doing things right.

    tl;dr version: This is bad and there is serious cause for concern, but London Met screwed up and that shouldn’t be ignored.

  12. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 4:22 pm Permalink

    I definitely agree that London Met have dropped the ball on this one. It would be very interesting to see the report and how it came about. However I think that the UKBA have been disproportionate, and have come down hard on London Met to prove a political point, rather than looking at the human cost. I believe this action will be a serious problem for the institution, and will risk the futures of the 28,000 students studying there.

  13. Sam
    no name
    30/08/2012 at 5:27 pm Permalink

    i guess that is what they want… to put off the internationals to come here 🙁
    despite the prices we pay here and the money they get from us.

  14. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 5:51 pm Permalink

    hi, I think the UK can just come out and say they do not appreciate the presence of international students. What with the border agency rules about getting a job after ur masters. they are making everything so difficult now. I think its really unfair to have the licence revoked and throwing the students out. I hope they would be refunded all the money they have paid the London Met as per fees and so on… Its really really sad, how can the hopes of such a large number of students be dashed against a rock.
    In conclusion, if the Border agency doesnt want international students here, they might as well say so, cos I feel more universities are going to get the axe as well. This is too sad, too bad for the UK educational system and the UK border agency as well.

  15. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 9:22 pm Permalink

    I share your frustration Kikky. The UKBA has spent too long targeting innocent students and putting up too many barriers, when the rich mixture of cultures/backgrounds/experiences is one of the things I’ve most enjoyed when studying at Uni, and I think as a UK student even I’ve fined from that.

    I will be raising these concerns with our local MP’s and ensuring that your concerned and experiences are heard.

  16. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 8:08 pm Permalink


    Its really shocking to see the the status of Met was revoked so late..I can imagine the plight of the students.. For most of us coming to UK or anywhere outside for studies is not only for academic interest but a once in a life time experience. Planning of almost a year goes for it and of course obscene amount of money which if not used would help us live like a king back home :D.
    My experience with UKBA last year was not bad.. I had no problems at all. But yes the job thing which Paul said was experienced by almost every international student. I know a lot of my friends have dropped their plans this year to come to UK. This is definitely a bad thing coz its really a wonderful place to study and i feel no one shud miss out on this experience cz of some stupid rules. Illegal students shud surely be stopped but y trouble sincere students.
    Really sad to see the changing attitude of students towards coming to UK. Its slowly turning to be one of least favorite from the most favorite place to study.

  17. Sam
    Kumodak Sharma
    30/08/2012 at 9:09 pm Permalink

    Hi Sam
    I am an international student, i will be joining southampton university for doing my bsc degree in economics and actuarial science this september can you tell me how this can affect me.Suggest some measures how to deal with if something similar to this happens with me.

  18. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 9:25 pm Permalink

    Hi Kumodak,

    I would like to reassure you that this will not directly affect you, so there is nothing you need to do with regards to your degree.

    I’ve raised this as an example of very poor treatment of students, and that UKBA should realise that this sort of action has a negative effect on the image of the UK as a country welcoming to international students.

  19. Sam
    kumodak sharma
    31/08/2012 at 2:27 pm Permalink

    Hi Sam,
    Yes u are right after reading this article i also got very wrong impression about UK gesture towards student’s, but thanks to your early reply due to which i am feeling lot more at ease and also feeling confident about my decison to choose UK as destination of my higher studies.I would also like to help the student going through all this in the best way i can because few years down the line it can happen to me as well.

  20. Sam
    30/08/2012 at 9:49 pm Permalink

    Awful, awful, awful news! If there’s absolutely anything that we as individuals can do, then I will be very keen to help. This is horrible and shocking.


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