Suspension of BITE’s visa licence ‘only temporary’

James MacAskill, principal of the private college, says suspension is down to a ‘misunderstanding’ by the Home Office

June 19, 2014

One of the largest private higher education colleges in the UK has had its licence to sponsor international students suspended by the Home Office.

The British Institute of Technology and E-commerce, which has partnerships with a number of universities, disappeared from the list of licensed institutions earlier this month.

According to the principal, James MacAskill, the suspension is down to a “misunderstanding” by the Home Office over the “exit arrangements” the institute had in place with previous partners. “We anticipate an early resolution to this particular issue,” he said.

The BITE is currently ending validation partnerships with the University of East London and the University of Wales, which was in effect shut down in 2011 after a series of scandals surrounding its validation activities. Dr MacAskill did not confirm whether these were the partnerships that had been the focus of the Home Office’s concerns.

In September last year, the BITE signed a new partnership with Staffordshire University to validate a range of largely business-related BA and master’s-level programmes. There are currently 336 students taking such courses.

According to a report released earlier this year by the Quality Assurance Agency, the BITE had 3,662 higher-level students, of which 2,254 were studying for a higher national diploma in business offered by the firm Pearson. This is a growth of more than 50 per cent since 2009-10, when the BITE was one of the five biggest private colleges in the UK.

The QAA report says that it had enrolled about 2,500 extra students in the autumn of 2013 after being allowed to access student loans for higher national certificate and diploma courses. It was one of 23 private colleges that had this funding suspended in November 2013.

According to Peter Robinson, the institute’s academic registrar, about 20 per cent of its students are “affected” by its visa licence status, although according to a Home Office spokesman, existing international students will not be affected by the suspension and can continue to study at the BITE.

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

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 6 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

Reader's comments (1)

The QAA report confirms that BITE is a college with 3,662 studying on higher-level programmes of whom 2,500 were additional registrations in the autumn term. The good news is that the QAA has "confidence that the Institute is fulfilling its responsibilities for managing and enhancing the quality of the intended learning opportunities it provides for students". They should go furher - the College had an intake of 2500 students, but when the QAA visted in 2013 the College had 987 students. To make such a huge jump, and the QAA have no concerns, the management of the College must be truly oustanding.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

David Parkins Christmas illustration (22 December 2016)

A Dickensian tale, set in today’s university

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together