The Task Force is led by Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of the HEFCE, and brings together representatives from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Universities UK, the UK Border Agency, London Metropolitan University and the National Union of Students.
Its sole aim is to support London Metropolitan University to find suitable alternative courses with other higher education providers for legitimate and appropriately qualified students, so that they can continue their studies in the UK.
The Task Force will not be engaging directly with individual students – they should contact the London Metropolitan University helpline on 0207 133 4141. UK Border Agency staff are on site at the University to provide advice via the helpline and student support team.
The Task Force met for the first time earlier today. At the meeting, the UK Border Agency confirmed that they will not be taking immediate action to curtail the leave of legitimate students. They will not take action for at least one month from the date of revocation (29 August 2012), and they will be advised by the Task Force when notice for curtailment should be triggered. This gives students at least three months to make alternative arrangements.
London Metropolitan University students are already approaching other universities with a view to starting or continuing their studies elsewhere. We welcome the positive response from these universities.
In order to facilitate this process, the Task Force is supporting London Metropolitan University to set up a ‘clearing house’ to help the university’s overseas students find a place with another university. A number of universities have expressed interest in receiving students. The university aims to have the clearing house in place by Monday week. London Metropolitan University continues to assist affected students via its helpline and student support team.
The clearing house will provide a simple, effective way of helping current overseas students, and those who were expecting to study at the university, to find a comparable course (one which matches as closely as possible the curriculum they have been following) at a comparable cost. It will provide students with information about the universities who are offering places, so that they are clear about the type of institution and the quality of the offer.
We would ask any university that is in contact with a London Metropolitan University student to let them know that the clearing house will soon be available. We recognise that students may well want to proceed in the course of next week in order to secure their place. We will provide further information as soon as we have it.
Universities have raised a number of questions about the implications of London Metropolitan University students transferring to a new higher education provider. The UK Border Agency will provide advice and support to ensure that those universities taking London Metropolitan University students are clear about what is required of them in terms of their responsibilities as a sponsor.
The Task Force recognises that students will have a wide range of concerns and questions, including about visa fees, and that it is essential that they have access to accurate and up-to-date information. The UK Border Agency is currently considering the requirements for students making further applications for leave when they find a suitable alternative course for which they are eligible.
The next meeting of the Task Force is scheduled for Wednesday 5 September. In the meantime, the Task Force will continue to finalise appropriate support for students in partnership with London Metropolitan University. A further progress note will be issued following the next Task Force meeting.
Individual members will continue to have views beyond the remit of the Task Force, and they should be contacted directly for those.
For enquiries about the Task Force, please contact Liz McCarty, HEFCE (firstname.lastname@example.org; 0117 931 7431 or 07841 323314).