Private providers among those chosen for London Met students

Three of the 15 institutions initially chosen as potential destinations for London Metropolitan University's overseas students are commercial operators, it has emerged, after a £2 million fund was announced by the government to help students transfer.

September 14, 2012

The Higher Education Funding Council for England said London Met has chosen the 15 institutions to be part of a mini-clearing system, which starts on 17 September, to find places for its 2,600 non-EU students.

Hefce is leading the taskforce set up to find new institutions for the students, who are unable to continue their studies at London Met after the UK Border Agency decided to revoke the university's licence to sponsor overseas students.

London Met's first High Court hearing in its legal challenge to the UKBA's decision is not until 21 September. That hearing could result in an order enabling London Met to continue to teach its international students, giving it time to pursue its judicial review of the UKBA's decision.

But even if London Met is successful in its hearing on 21 September some of its students could have moved elsewhere, as the clearing house will already be underway.

The nine Hefce-funded institutions taking part in the clearing house are Brunel University, City University, University of East London, University of Greenwich, London South Bank University, Middlesex University, Roehampton University, University of West London and Westminster University.

The six private institutions taking part are BPP University College, College of Law, Greenwich School of Management, ifs School of Finance, London School of Business and Finance, and Regent's College.

Of the private institutions, Regent's College and ifs are charities, while the College of Law is in the process of being sold to a private equity firm. The rest are commercial operators. LSBF struck a validation agreement with London Met earlier this year.

"The 15 institutions are well-placed in terms of curriculum match, cost comparability, location, and quality assurance to take London Metropolitan University students," Hefce says in its taskforce statement.

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, announced yesterday that there would be £2 million of public funding to help legitimate London Met students with costs such as repeat visa applications and lost deposits on accommodation caused by having to move locations to a new institution.

Sally Hunt, the University and College Union general secretary, said: "The simple and cheap option here is to grant an amnesty for the students facing deportation after the government revoked LMU's licence to teach overseas students. The £2 million fund will not cover all students' costs anyway and we have real concerns that private operators will have easy access to taxpayers' money, without facing the requisite quality checks."

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

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