UK visa issue hits several UAE students

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UK visa issue hits several UAE students

DUBAI — More than 2,000 foreign students, including several hundred from the UAE, face possible deportation from Britain after their university was stripped of its right to authorise visas for their study.

by Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Fri 31 Aug 2012, 12:50 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:05 PM

The London Metropolitan University, popularly known as London Met, has its Highly Trusted Status, which allowed it to sponsor students from outside the European Union, revoked by the Border Agency on Wednesday over alleged failings in its procedures. The move means current overseas students have 60 days to enrol in a course. On contacting university authorities, Khaleej Times found that there are several hundred students from the UAE who are currently under the University sponsorship. The spokesperson added that it is too early for them to release exact figures of the number of students.

“The university is popular among students from the UAE. This happened very quickly, and we do not have the exact number of students,” said the spokesperson.

However, London Met is in talks with other varsities to facilitate the transfer of students (fresh applicants) to other neighbouring universities. The spokesperson added that arrangements are being made so as to not leave the students in a lurch.

London Metropolitan University lost its “highly trusted status” because a survey found more than a quarter of its foreign students did not have permission to be in the country, Immigration Minister Damian Green said Thursday.

A “significant proportion” of students did not have a good standard of English, Green said, and there was no proof that half of those sampled were turning up to lectures.

“Any one of those breaches would be serious,” Green said in a BBC radio interview. “We found all three of those breaches at London Met.”

The students have 60 days to find a new s ponsor, or they could find themselves at risk of deportation. Malcolm Gillies, vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University, said it was “working with the best lawyers in the country” to challenge the ruling by the UK Border Agency.

Students who have already applied and been accepted to the university can approach other varsities like the University of East London, Greenwich University, Middlesex, Westminister, University of South Bank, and University of West London. “If the student approaches any of these universities saying that they are from London Met, they will be as sympathetic as possible to the needs on the students,” said the spokesperson.

He added: “Those students looking for refund of fees can send an e-mail to incomecollection@londonmet.ac.co.uk along with their details. Speaking about availability of courses, he said that getting a placement for popular courses like an MBA or Mass Communication studies should not be too difficult.

Educators expressed fears that the episode could damage Britain’s success in attracting foreign students.

“I would go so far as to say that UKBA has been rewriting its own guidelines on this issue and this is something which should cause concern to all universities in the UK,” Gillie said.

Universities Minister David Willetts said a task force has been set up to help genuine students who are affected through no fault of their own. “No matter how this is dressed up, the damaging message that the UK deports foreign students studying at UK universities will reach

all corners of the globe,” said Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union. “The last thing we can afford to do is send a message that international students are no longer welcome here.”

Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students, said the government’s “heavy-handed decision makes no sense for students, no sense for institutions and no sense for the country.”

with inputs from AFP

Dhanusha Gokulan
Dhanusha Gokulan


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