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Outrage has today greeted the decision by UK Borders Authority to suspend the right of London Metropolitan University to teach students from outside the EU.

UKBA has revoked the University's "Highly Trusted Status" licence which allows it to sponsor overseas students' visas. The National Union of Students says that this could mean the deportation of up to 3,000 students within 60 days, unless alternative sponsors are found.

The Immigration Minister, Damian Green, claims London Met was not keeping proper records of students' attendance. Since the introduction of the points-based immigration system, universities have been required by UKBA to monitor and report their overseas students' attendance.

Over the last three years, tutors and lecturers have been requested by a number of university administrations to make their class and lecture attendance records available to the UKBA if needed, and to report changes in students' circumstances. Many academics have regused to comply with the new regulations, backed up by their union branches, and the NUS has condemned the move.

The attack on overseas students at London Met comes just weeks after university management announced plans to privatise virtually all of its support services in a £75m deal. Mismanagement at London Met led to huge cuts in its funding by the Higher Education Funding Council just two years ago. Protests and occupations by students backed up strikes by staff in a bid to halt redundancies at a college that has a long tradition of providing education to students not from white, middle-class families.

Influential Tory thinktank Policy Exchange has highlighted London Met as a potential case for closure - the first of its kind for a UK university.

Underfunded and poorly served by its managers, staff and students at London Met have nonetheless fought to preserve the principle of widening access to university students. There are more black students studying at London Met than in the entire Russell Group of 17 elite universities.

Many of those threatened with deportation will be mid-way through their courses, having already paid the exhorbitant fees due to non-EU students. They now face weeks of uncertainty and, should they fail to find an alternative institution, the potential loss of their degree. 

UKBA may believe it is picking on an easy target to meet its immigration quotas by attempting the mass deportation of foreign students from a new university. But already protests are taking place outside the main University building and Downing Street. University management will be appealling, and the National Union of Students has condemned the decision.

Petition

Sign the petition calling for an immediate amnesty for international students at London Metropolitan University at: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/amnesty-for-international-students-at-london-metropolit.html.

London Met protest

James Meadway

James Meadway

Radical economist James Meadway has been an important critic of austerity economics and at the forefront of efforts to promulgate an alternative. James is co-author of Crisis in the Eurozone (2012) and Marx for Today (2014).

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