Overseas students studying at the London Metropolitan University have been offered some UK visa guidance from the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
The agency revoked the London Met's licence to sponsor students from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) earlier this year (August) as part of the government's efforts to crackdown on people using the Tier 4 student visa route to migrate to the UK illegally.
The decision was based on figures suggesting that an unacceptable number of students whose visas had been sponsored by the Met were working outside of their UK visa conditions. However, it proved to be a controversial decision due to the large number of legitimate students who were affected.
Now, the UKBA has decided to allow existing genuine students to continue their study at the university until their course has ended or until the end of their academic year – whichever is soonest.
With this in mind, existing overseas students at the London Met have been told that they must complete and return their study intentions form by the end of the month. Reminder letters have also been issued today (Friday 26th).
This also applies to students who have left the country on holiday; so long as they are valid students they will be permitted to return and complete their current period of study.
Unfortunately, it's a different case for students who haven't yet started their studies. According to the UKBA: “If you already have a visa to come to the UK to study at London Metropolitan University you should cancel your travel plans. London Metropolitan University should already have told you this.”
London Met is not alone in having its status removed and a number of other universities and colleges have also seen their trusted sponsor status reconsidered, while students themselves have seen the conditions attached to their visa tightened.
These changes have prompted much discontent within the higher education sector, which believes that the decision to clamp down on student visas risks sending out the message that the UK is not open to doing business and trade with other countries. There is also the additional problem of limiting access to talent by making it harder for some of the best minds in the world to study in Britain.