The Mayor of London and one of the Government's most promising ministers have rounded on Middlesex University for abandoning plans to set up a new campus in the capital while pressing ahead with a moneyspinning site in the Gulf.
Ken Livingstone, the London mayor, and David Lammy, MP for Tottenham and the Minister for Constitutional Affairs who has been tipped to become Britain's first black prime minister, said they were "dismayed" that Middlesex had dropped plans to establish a campus at Tottenham Hale, North London.
Mr Lammy said: "This is a serious blow for the young people of Tottenham.
The university made an undertaking to the people of Tottenham just three years ago. I can't believe they are reneging on that commitment."
Mr Lammy's office said it was particularly unhappy that the confirmation of the abandonment of the Tottenham plans came as the university announced it was setting up a campus in Dubai, its first outside the UK.
In a letter to Mr Lammy last month, Mr Livingstone said: "I share your disappointment and concern about the university's latest action to put the Tottenham Hale site on the open market."
The Mayor said he had received a "personal assurance" from Michael Driscoll, Middlesex's vice-chancellor, that the campus at Tottenham Hale was "an integral part" of his university's plans for consolidation and expansion in North London.
The university confirmed in a letter to Mr Lammy last week that its board of governors had decided not to proceed with plans for the Tottenham campus.
It said: "In coming to this decision, the board took into account a wide range of factors, including the prospects for future student recruitment to the university and the prospects of further regeneration in the Tottenham area... I wish to assure you, however, that the university remains fully committed to widening participation in higher education right across North London, including, of course, for the people of Tottenham."
The Northumberland Partnership Board, a neighbourhood partnership in the affected area, said the decision to abandon the plan would deny the area a "key regeneration catalyst".
It said the university's decision would deny opportunities to young people, would lead to a loss of potential jobs and could lead to local people losing confidence in further developments.
In a press release this week, Middlesex confirms it will be offering BA programmes in business administration and business information systems, as well as professional short courses, in a joint venture with a group of Dubai businessmen known as Middlesex Associates in Dubai.
Middlesex says it recruits more international students than any other UK university and more than 20 per cent of its students are from outside the European Union.
No one at Middlesex was available for comment at the time of going to press.