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London Met University in court over student visa controversy

PROBLEMS: London Met University in court over student visa controversy

LONDON METROPOLITAN university will attend court today in a bid to block the UK Border Agency (UKBA) from revoking their status as a highly trusted sponsor (HTS) for international student visas.

Lawyers for the insituition are asking for the ban to be lifted while they seek a legal ruling known as a 'judicial review'.

Last month the UKBA revoked London Metropolitan’s HTS on the grounds that
it was not making proper checks on international students.

The London Met vice-chancellor Professor Malcolm Gillies has rejected the claims, saying there was no evidence of systemic failings and that the decision to take away the university's 'highly trusted status' was based on 'a highly flawed report by the UKBA'.

As a result of the downgrading of the university’s status, foreign students attending the institution were told they would have to find new places to study or be deported from the country in 60 days.

Scores of international students directly affected by the decision to revoke London Met’s HTS status is currently estimated at as many as 2,600. The university says the decision could cost it up to £30m a year.

In a further development, the National Union of Students (NUS) yesterday announced it is to intervene as an independent third party in the UK in London Metropolitan University’s legal challenge to the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

President of the NUS, Liam Burns said: “We are concerned that the needs and interests of students are represented in this case, and our independent intervention will look to ensure that voice is heard in the legal proceedings.”

Leading law firm Bindmans have been instructed to file a third party intervention on behalf of the NUS, and as an independent expert in the case.

Burns continued: “The students at London Met who have been affected by this decision came to London in good faith and have already spent tens of thousands of pounds on their education. It is crucial that their situation is fully considered.

As this is the first time that the Government has revoked the sponsor status of a public institution, we are in uncharted territory, and this case will set important precedents for the future treatment of both domestic and international students.”

Saadia Khan a Solicitor for Bindmans said: “This is the first time that such action has been taken against a publicly funded university and will have implications for thousands of international students already in the UK or considering coming here to study. The Court will decide if NUS can intervene in the proceedings brought by London Met - doing so will enable the students’ perspective to be heard by the Court.”

The NUS president was adamant that students affected by the decision would not be forgotten: “We’ll continue to work to ensure London Met students are able to continue their studies there.”

Last week the government pledged £2m to help the students.

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