Friday, August 31, 2012

Tightening of UK rule hits international students

Hundreds of international students, including from India, are facing uncertainty, following the decision by the UK Border Authority to revoke a London university’s right to have non-EU students. London Metropolitan University, which has an estimated 2,000 non-EU students, had its licence to sponsor international students revoked after it failed to address previously identified “systematic failings”, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) said on Thursday, adding that an audit had revealed problems with 61 per cent of files.

“These are problems with one university,” said the agency. “We are doing everything possible, working with Universities UK, to assist genuine students that have been affected.” Under current rules, students affected would have 60 days to find an alternative institution, or face having to leave the country.

The developments were “hugely significant and far reaching,” London Metropolitan University’s Vice- Chancellor Malcolm Gillies said adding that its “absolute priority” was to current and prospective students. “The university will meet all its obligations to them.”

A number of colleges have been forced to close in the UK following a tightening of the rules governing international students. However, London Metropolitan University is the largest and most prominent institution to be affected so far. Various groups sought to reassure international students that they would do as much as possible to limit the impact on them, including Universities UK, which also questioned the border agency’s strategy.

“We believe that there were alternative ways of addressing UKBA’s concerns, and that revocation of a university's licence should only be a decision of last resort.” The National Union of Students condemned the revocation. “It is disgusting that international students continue to be used as a political football by politicians,” said the group’s President Liam Burns.

Immigration Minister Damian Green told the BBC that he was not playing a political game but just “enforcing the law” and that it was an isolated case, and would not be “replicated across the universities sector.” The university had breached the rules in three important respects, he said, failing to show that all the students had leave to remain in the country, mandatory levels of English, or that they were regularly turning up to classes rather than working.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, August 31, 2012

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