UK varsity stripped of visa licence

Britain’s Border Agency has revoked London Metropolitan University’s right to grant study visas to foreign students over “serious deficiencies”. This will affect about 360 students from India, including nearly 200 from Andhra Pradesh, who have 60 days to find a new course or face deportation.

In all, the decision affects over 2,000 non-European Union students of the university, which has been stripped of its “highlytrusted status” for sponsoring international students.

The Border Agency revoked the licence on Thursday after the university failed to address “serious and systemic failings” identified six months ago.

The licence had been suspended on July 16. The university has set up a helpline +44 (0)20 7133 4141 to support and advise students.

In India, the LMU has offices in New Delhi and Chennai and is one of the major destinations for AP students going to the UK, especially to pursue management in aviation, MBA, M.Sc (finance) and MA (marketing). The varsity charges up to `15 lakh per annum for these courses.

Seeing the huge demand for its courses, LMU had ventured into the AP market directly and had engaged educational consultants at major cities to make admissions by offering “attractive commissions” up to 25 per cent.
Officials from the NRI cell in the Secretariat said that they had not received any information from AP students or their parents about the revocation of London Metropolitan University’s right to grant study visas to foreign students.

They said the government was trying to speak to the respective embassies in New Delhi and London to ascertain the situation.

In the UK, immigration minister Damien Green said that a task force led by Sir Alan Langlands was set up to help those affected find another course at a different university. “I’m not chucking anyone out,” Mr Green said. “What I’m doing is enforcing the rules.” The Indian High Commission in London said on Thursday that no student had contacted it for help yet. “The High Commission is in touch with LMU to see what action is needed,” a spokesperson said.

“The implications are significant and far-reaching,” said LMU vice-chancellor Malcolm Gillies, adding that the university would meet all its obligations to both current and prospective students.

LMU had entered into a partnership agreement with the Glendale Institute of Management Sciences in July this year, to offer MBA, M.SC (finance) and MA (marketing) courses. The institute is owned by prominent politician Basheeruddin Babu Khan, now a Congress leader.
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