Unions call for amnesty to allow foreign students to complete their studies after estimates that 2,000 foreign students may face deportation as a result of UKBA ruling


A senior union rep at London Metropolitan University says its foreign students are ‘caught in the cross-hairs of Conservative Party policy’ on privatisation after the UK Border Agency revoked the university’s license to teach foreign students.

(Pictured: students from the university stage protest outside Downing Street against UKBA ruling) 

The decision – which was announced overnight – means students from outside the European Union are no longer allowed to study at the university.

According to the National Union of Students, up to 2,000 students could face deportation.

Unions have linked the Border Agency decision to recent moves by university management to privatise support services.

UCU and UNISON branches on the campus have called for an amnesty for all current students at London Met, to allow them to complete their studies.

Mark Campbell, a lecturer and UCU rep at the university, told UnionNews: “It’s appalling that London Met’s license has been revoked.

“Our priority at the moment is safeguarding our current students, staff and the university.

“However, I’m certain that the university’s privatisation drive is what turned the attention of the UKBA on us.

“Our students have become caught in the cross-hairs of two wings of the Tory Party: the [Higher Education Minister] David Willets group who want more privatisation and want to maximise income from foreign students – and the [Immigration Minister] Damian Green wing who want to cut the number of people coming into the UK.

“The only people who should be leaving London Met are the management who got us into this mess in the first place.”

In a statement, the university’s UNISON branch says: “We find the blame for this current fiasco lies with the current leadership of the University.

“The UKBA should not be allowed to shut down any university, however, if they threaten to do so we should have been prepared to get our house in order before rushing into new partnerships with dodgy private collegesand new adventures in the private sector.

“Current management only have themselves to blame.

“UNISON is in utter disbelief that they could have put the entire university in danger in such a callous way.”

The decision has also raised concerns well beyond the university campus.

Ian Tasker, Secretary to the Youth Committee of the Scottish TUC, said: “The government could have reached a fairer and more just solution allowing students affected to complete their studies but they chose not to.

“Instead they choose to instil fear and panic and unsettle our overseas student population with no consideration for their futures.

“The UKBA’s latest decision to revoke the highly trusted status at London Metropolitan University is perhaps more about the coalition Government’s immigration policy and shows no concern regarding the rights and welfare of overseas students.”

Unions at the university are organising a series of joint mass meetings at the main university buildings for next Monday (3 September).

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