Hefce boss: NUS ‘played blinder’ over Met visa crisis

Legal challenge helped save overseas students from deportation

April 18, 2013

The head of England’s funding council has praised the National Union of Students for launching “game-changing” legal action on behalf of students threatened with deportation after London Metropolitan University’s visa licence was revoked last August.

Speaking at the 10th annual conference of the European Network of Ombudsmen in Higher Education, Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said NUS involvement had been crucial.

The organisation had “played a blinder” by instructing law firm Bindmans to file a third-party claim against the UK Border Agency in support of London Met’s own High Court action, Sir Alan told delegates in Oxford on 12 April. While Hefce and London Met had responded well to the UKBA decision, “the NUS made a game-changing intervention in the courts”, he said.

The legal action helped win the students a temporary reprieve from deportation. They can now finish their studies after the Home Office last week reinstated the university’s right to sponsor international students.

He also repeated his criticisms of UKBA’s management of the case. “It was not handled in a particularly smart way,” said Sir Alan, who is leaving Hefce to become vice-chancellor of the University of Leeds this autumn.

He also told the conference, organised by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, that he was working to ensure that the academy was not hit too hard by chancellor George Osborne’s spending review on 26 June. He believed that the sector would “go safely through until July 2015”, but warned that further austerity measures could be proposed after the next general election.

“After that, we’ll have to defend our corner once again,” he said.

Sir Alan warned that the current fees and funding system might not be sustainable in the long term because there was still uncertainty about the proportion of student debt that will not be repaid - a factor that could determine funding levels.

He asked whether David Willetts, the universities and science minister, was “100 per cent sure” that the government had got its sums right.

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Daniel Mitchell illustration (29 June 2017)

Academics who think they can do the work of professional staff better than professional staff themselves are not showing the kind of respect they expect from others

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Senior academics at Teesside University put at risk of redundancy as summer break gets under way

Tef, results, gold, silver, bronze, teaching excellence framework

The results of the 2017 teaching excellence framework in full. Find out which universities were awarded gold, silver or bronze

Thorns and butterflies

Conditions that undermine the notion of scholarly vocation – relentless work, ubiquitous bureaucracy – can cause academics acute distress and spur them to quit, says Ruth Barcan