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UK taskforce to help London Metropolitan University students

London Metropolitan UniversityAn UK government appointed taskforce has set up a £2 million student support fund to assist international students affected by the decision on London Metropolitan University. NICOLA DANDRIDGE, chief executive, Universities UK, speaks to Gauri Rane about the initiative

Over 2,700 international students would have had no option but to return to their home countries when the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in August revoked the London Metropolitan University’s (LMU) licence to recruit students outside the European Union. The decision affected around 350 students from India. However, the UK government responded quickly by setting up a taskforce to assist the students.

LMU is the first in the UK to lose the right to recruit outside the EU. The UKBA said it took the action because the university was not making proper checks on its overseas students — that it did not keep records of whether they had the required standard of English to be given a student visa or whether they were attending lectures. Denying this, the university is challenging the action through the courts. In September, the courts gave the university a partial reprieve, allowing it to teach existing overseas students until the end of the academic year.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive, Universities UK and a member of the government-appointed taskforce, says, “The taskforce comprises UKBA, Department of Business, Universities UK, Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the National Union of Students. The main aim of the taskforce is to help international students find suitable, alternative options so that they can continue their studies at another institution in the UK, if they decide not to continue with LMU.” In addition, the taskforce oversaw the establishment of a £2 million student support fund to ensure that no international student would suffer financially as a result of the decision . The fund has been paying for items such as the cost of visa re-application , extra tuition fees and other additional expenses such as travel and accommodation .

“We also want to clarify why changes needed to be introduced in the UK immigration system. The system has been tightened to eliminate fraudulent use of the student route. But universities in the UK still welcome international students; students can still work for 20 hours a week and post-study work, in graduate jobs, is still available,” adds Dandridge, while brushing aside rumours that students are not allowed to work while studying. (TOI)

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