Home Office ends revocation of visa licences

Tim Lezard

London metLondon Metropolitan University (LMU) will again be allowed to recruit international students after the Home Office ended the revocation of its visa licence.

The original decision to remove the university’s licence to teach foreign students, by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in August, led to headlines across the world of stranded students facing deportation. The UCU said the full impact of that incident is yet to be felt.

UCU said UKBA’s decision to revoke the licence was a disproportionate reaction to a situation that should have been addressed without the recourse to such drastic action. The union said it was pleased the university had its licence back, but said hundreds of students had faced unnecessary disruption and costs during the last six months.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “We are still to fully feel the impact of the damage the UKBA’s decision had in terms of our international reputation. Hundreds of students faced a worrying period of insecurity and unnecessary costs as they tried to find somewhere else to study.

“We are of course pleased the university has got its licence back, but feel the UKBA should have taken a less draconian approach and avoided the mess that so many students, the university and our international reputation got caught up in.”

Other education unions have also given a guarded welcome to the news.

Max Watson, chair of the London Met UNISON branch, told UnionNews: “We are waiting for more details, because he devil is in the detail.

“As we’ve said before: management played with fire and got burned. So we are calling for an inquiry into this fiasco and for management to take responsibility instead of patting themselves on the back.”

Critics say the Home Office should also take responsibility for damage to the reputation of London Metropolitan University and the wider higher education sector.

NUS president Liam Burns said: ““We have some pressing concerns about restrictions on numbers, work placements, and re-sits in this transitional year and will be urgently seeking further clarification.

“NUS made the unprecedented move to stage an intervention in the court case between London Met and the Home Office last autumn in order to protect and defend international students, and in the process we have taught the government to think twice before again making such heavy handed decisions.

“It is deeply problematic for immigration policy to interfere with teaching and learning, both of which should be firmly in the hands of students and educators.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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