Door shut on student visa sponsorship programme

A partnership helping students to work in the UK has been cut short. David Matthews writes

August 15, 2013

A university has suspended entry to a programme in which it sponsored overseas students so they could work in the UK while a private college provided teaching and collected tuition fees.

It is understood that the Home Office has been looking into the partnership between Glyndwr University and the London School of Business and Finance, although there is no suggestion that any rules have been broken.

The breakdown of the arrangement follows the end of a similar partnership that the LSBF had last year with London Metropolitan University.

In the LSBF-Glyndwr link, 312 students are currently on jointly offered two- to three-year-long accountancy courses – but the door was shut to any more at the end of May.

They are registered as Glyndwr students, taught at the university’s London campus, and are sponsored for immigration purposes by Glyndwr in order to give them the right to work in the UK, something denied to private college students.

Glyndwr, rather than the LSBF, was chosen to sponsor students “to support students’ ability to fulfil practical experience requirements on their course”, according to an LSBF spokesman.

To complete the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants courses, students need a minimum of three years’ “relevant work-based practical experience”, according to the institute’s website. The LSBF provides teaching staff and receives the students’ tuition fees, although Glyndwr stressed that all lecturers were approved by the head of its business school.

The agreement was struck in March earlier this year, but according to Glyndwr, entry was suspended on 31 May.

In April last year, the LSBF struck a similar deal with London Met whereby the university sponsored its students. But unlike in the case of the deal with Glyndwr, London Met also validated their degrees.

The London Met-LSBF partnership was cut short after less than a year in December 2012, after the revocation of London Met’s licence to sponsor international students (which was reinstated in April this year).

Glyndwr said it had explored a much wider partnership that would have seen it validate courses offered by the LSBF, along with St Patrick’s College and the London College of Contemporary Arts, part of the LSBF group of businesses.

“After following a stringent process of due diligence [the university] decided not to proceed,” a spokesman said.

Of this broader arrangement, he added: “We never validated or delivered any degree programmes and no CAS [confirmation of acceptance for studies, needed to gain a student visa] was ever issued or places offered on any programme leading to a Glyndwr University award.”

A spokesman for the LSBF said: “We had positive discussions with Glyndwr and while the final commercial arrangements between us were unresolved, we remain pleased with our cooperation in providing CIMA courses.”

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