I now write on law and regulation facing the pensions sector for Professional Pensions and this portfolio will no longer be updated. Please read all my new articles on the Professional Pensions website.
This Wednesday at 20:00, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) announced its decision to revoke the Highly Trusted Status (HTS) of London Metropolitan University, thus removing the right for the University to grant approval for student visas, and causing all current student visas approved by the University to be invalidated.
The UKBA’s horrific decision has far-reaching and outstanding effects, far more than one could possibly first imagine; the displacement of current students, the delay to prospective students, the loss of money to the University and the Higher Education sphere as a whole, the loss of tenants, the damaging impact to the reputation of the United Kingdom, overstaffing at the University, confusion for students… the list goes on.
However, of course, the most important is the damaging effect that students have faced. The most shocking part is that even those who are currently studying at the University, of whom most, if not all, will be legitimate hard-working students, are now no longer able to complete their course – some may have less than three months left of their course, and paid out thousands in order to study at this University, yet are now being told their course is no longer an option. They must find a new course by 1 December or return to their home country – a very unfair, and economically harming danger.
Furthermore, there are the students who have applied for the University, been warranted Visas, perhaps bought their travel tickets, and have planned to travel to the University next month, some within the timeframe of 2 weeks. These students are now being told they must also reapply elsewhere.
The worst? It would be fairly simple if they had more time; the fact is, UCAS applications have been completed, clearing spaces have been open, filled and closed. There are no longer any spaces left for students, and even if there were, it would be very unlikely that it was a course that the students had originally studied or intended to study. What use is that?
This decision is not a simple one, but the Government and the UKBA thoroughly knew the impact of it, and the unwelcome reception it would have. It is also not a decision that will be taken lightly. The National Union of Students (NUS), Unison and the University and College Union (UCU) have all condemned the action, planning a day of protest to show their support and solidarity for the displaced students and I am certain that hundreds, if not thousands, will turn out; perhaps I will be one of them.