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The task force made further progress with the ‘clearing house’ which London Metropolitan University is setting up to support students wishing to transfer from London Metropolitan University to an alternative education provider or institution. The clearing house will be operating from Monday 17 September 2012. It will offer every London Metropolitan University international undergraduate student affected by the revocation decision a course or courses to which they can apply. These courses will be comparable in cost and curriculum, and the providers will be quality assured so that students can be confident that their learning experience will continue to meet high standards. Providers will be based in London wherever possible in order to minimise disruption to students’ accommodation and transport arrangements.
Postgraduate students have different and varying requirements and timescales, and the task force is exploring a range of options to ensure that these students are also able to complete their courses. The UK Border Agency has today confirmed that postgraduate students just about to hand in final dissertations, or those who have just done so before the University’s licence was revoked, will be able to have those dissertations marked either through written material or orally, and degrees awarded.
London Metropolitan University is putting in place a full support package, including academic and welfare advice, to help students looking to transfer to another provider. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Home Office are considering issues arising from the need for transferring students to reapply for a visa.
As reported after the first meeting, the UK Border Agency has confirmed that no legitimate student will be sent a curtailment letter, which imposes a 60-day deadline within which to find another sponsor, or leave the UK, until the beginning of October at the earliest, two weeks after the clearing house has become fully operational.
The timing for the start of the clearing house has been amended in the light of London Metropolitan University’s decision to initiate legal action in response to the revocation. If this action succeeds in its initial stage, the revocation will be set aside until a further hearing can consider the issues in more detail. In these circumstances, the University will be able, and will want, to continue to teach its current international students.
However, there is a possibility that any subsequent legal hearings may lead to reinstatement of the revocation, thereby creating a risk that students could have their studies disrupted in the course of the academic year. The task force thinks that this level of continuing uncertainty for students would be unreasonable and has agreed the following way forward:
Some London Metropolitan University students are continuing to explore options for transferring to a new institution, and we welcome the support that institutions are offering them. London Metropolitan University is contacting all its affected international students to let them know about the clearing house and support package, and the implications of its legal action, so that students are taking their decisions with as much information as possible.
We will provide institutions with further detail about the operation of the clearing house by the middle of next week. If London Metropolitan University students approach an institution directly, we would expect the institution to advise those students of the clearing house arrangements before they take any decisions to transfer.