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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org