For-profit college evicted from London Met 'clearing house'

A private for-profit college has been prevented from taking on international students from London Metropolitan University because of concerns over quality.

September 27, 2012

The Greenwich School of Management was one of 15 institutions in a "clearing house" set up to allow overseas students to transfer to other institutions after London Met lost its licence to sponsor them in August.

The news comes amid questions over whether there remains an urgent need for the clearing house after a High Court ruling last week saved the students from the immediate threat of deportation.

The UK Border Agency and the university have agreed that existing international students and those starting this year will be able to complete their academic year or courses, whichever finishes sooner, after London Met was given permission to seek a judicial review of the government's decision to revoke its visa licence.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England, which is helping to coordinate the clearing house, listed the Greenwich School of Management alongside nine publicly funded and six privately funded institutions on 13 September.

However, by 20 September it had been taken off the list.

A spokeswoman for London Met, which selected the institutions, said the school was no longer in the running because of a critical Quality Assurance Agency report released on 4 September.

As reported in Times Higher Education last week, the QAA found that the "quality of student learning opportunities" at the institution "requires improvement to meet UK expectations". It also found that the "enhancement of student learning opportunities" did not meet UK expectations, although the school did meet academic standards.

Alison Wride, principal of the school, said that since the institution had been informed of London Met's decision last week, it had "been in talks with [it] to clarify the situation", given that the QAA review "explicitly commended our support for international students".

Asked why the institution had been listed as part of the clearing house even though the QAA report had been made public nine days earlier, the London Met spokeswoman said: "At no point was the list meant to be definitive or final."

Greenwich School of Management has 932 undergraduates and 404 postgraduates, according to the QAA report. It has plans to expand into two further London sites using money raised by Sovereign Capital Partners, a private equity firm that owns the majority of the school.

Meanwhile, it has also emerged that only a fraction of the international students who faced deportation have registered an interest in transferring. So far, only 383 have done so, the London Met spokeswoman said, although around 2,600 were at risk of deportation before the High Court hearing on 21 September.

She said it was "too early" to say how many would switch courses successfully because they would need to go through the admissions process at their new institutions.

A total of £2 million has been set aside by the government to help students transfer.

The clearing house went live on 17 September and is set to remain open until 12 October.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com.

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