London Met students reprieved by high court
September 24, 2012
Students at London Metropolitan University will be allowed to commence studies this week, following a reprieve from a high court judge. The university was also granted permission to launch a full-scale legal challenge to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) decision to revoke its Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) status.
Mr Justice Irwin said he was moving to protect students from outside the EU who were already in the UK or about to arrive, and whose immigration status was in order. The temporary order covers students that had already commenced studies at LMU or were due to start today.
In a statement, the agency said, “UKBA agreed to allow existing genuine students to continue studying at the university until their course has ended or the end of the academic year, whichever is sooner as long as they meet the right standards. But students who are here illegally and do not meet our immigration criteria will not be allowed to stay.”
UKBA indicated it would conduct additional checks to ensure students had valid immigration status. A random sample of 101 of LMU’s international students by UKBA found that around a quarter had no right to remain in the UK, leading to the decision to revoke the HTS status.
As reported previously, the UKBA’s decision to withdraw LMU’s license had left non-EU students potentially facing deportation within 60 days if they were unable to find another course.
The judge also ruled that students that had chosen to transfer to another university should not lose out financially. UKBA had already announced a UK£2 million (US$3.2 million) fund and a special taskforce to assist genuine students find places at other universities.
The decision to revoke LMU’s HTS license has not been reversed, although the university may launch a full-scale challenge to the decision. The judge said a full hearing was required to test the university’s claim that the decision had not been approved by parliament or stipulated in immigration rules. LMU may not recruit any new non-EU students until the matter has been settled legally.
The UKBA statement said, “Revoking the university’s license was the right course of action and we will continue to fight the university’s challenge at the full hearing.”
The university’s counsel, Richard Gordon QC, said there was a strong case that the UKBA decision was unlawful. “The financial impact on the university, and on its reputation and good will, are enormous. The impact on students’ education, financial position and the disruption to their lives is extremely significant.”