Hundreds of overseas students do not return to London Met

Fewer than 45 per cent of continuing overseas students at London Metropolitan University have committed to stay with the troubled institution, given the choice of staying or transferring elsewhere.

October 16, 2012

The task force to help London Met students find new courses at other higher education institutions held its final meeting yesterday.

The UK Border Agency stripped London Met of its licence to sponsor non-EU students after finding the institution in breach of immigration requirements.

However, a High Court judge granted the university permission to seek a judicial review of that decision.

The judge also granted "interim relief" to overseas students currently enrolled at the university or with an offer of a place for this year, provided they have proper immigration status. This means such students can complete their course or complete the 2012-13 academic year at London Met, whichever is sooner.

Students also have the option of transferring to another institution.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England, which led the task force, says in a statement that of the 2,600 overseas students affected by UKBA's decision, more than 1,000 "have been able to complete their courses, or have graduated from the university".

A London Met spokeswoman said that left 1,385 eligible for re-enrolment. Of those, 626 have re-enrolled, she said.

That means 759 students have either transferred to other institutions or are in the category of "still considering their options".

London Met announced an initial list of 15 institutions - later reduced to 13 - which would form a "clearing house" as potential destinations for students wanting to transfer.

Meanwhile, Malcolm Grant, the University College London provost, has raised "serious doubts" over the need for some overseas to register with police.

The requirement attracted criticism after revelations about long, overnight queues for students at the sole London police station processing their registrations. The process has now been changed so universities can handle the registrations.

In an email to staff, Professor Grant says: "Ten days ago I visited the queue in the early morning and was shocked by what I saw. There is no shelter, no seating, no refreshments and no facilities."

He adds that "there must be serious doubts as to whether there is any point to the whole exercise. It is entirely likely that UKBA already hold all the information the students are being required to provide to the police."

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