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The UK Border Agency has agreed that, subject to a number of conditions, non-EEA students in the UK currently enrolled at London Metropolitan University, or with an offer of a place, and who already have a valid Tier 4 visa to study there, will be allowed to complete their course, or complete the 2012-13 academic year ending in summer 2013, whichever is the sooner.

All of these students will now be able to complete their studies at London Metropolitan University without further disruption or uncertainty. A further 400 students who have submitted their final dissertations already know that their work will be assessed and that (assuming it meets the required standards) they will be able to graduate from the University.

Over 500 international students currently at London Metropolitan University have more than a year left to complete their studies. They will have the option of staying on at the University for the whole of academic year 2012-13, but at present it is unclear whether they will be able to stay beyond summer 2013. They will be advised of the position as soon as it is clarified.

If these students are not able to continue at London Metropolitan University beyond 2013, they will have ample time to consider their preferences for academic year 2013-14.  They will be given clear advice and guidance on their options.

The University will continue to operate the clearing house until Friday 12 October 2012 (the normal timescale for clearing), so that any student who still wishes to transfer to another institution will be fully supported in so doing. In the event that some students choose to remain at London Metropolitan University for the academic year 2012-13 and then have to move to another institution, they will be encouraged to begin exploring their options. If necessary, the clearing house will be available following the publication of exam results in May/June 2013, and will run throughout the summer.

As previously reported, the UK Border Agency is currently considering what, if any, flexibility can be applied to the visa requirements of students wishing to transfer to another institution.

The £2 million fund announced by the Universities Minister in response to these exceptional circumstances will be up and running later this week to help students who have incurred costs as a result of the revocation.  The fund office will be located at London Metropolitan University’s Holloway Road campus. The fund will be overseen by the task force in collaboration with the University.  It will deal quickly and compassionately with genuine cases where students have been confronted with unexpected financial pressures. 

Our continuing expectation is that the majority of institutions receiving London Metropolitan University students should be able to offer comparable tuition costs. The fund will exceptionally meet any additional tuition fee costs sustained by students who are transferring to another university or college as a result of the revocation. This should reassure receiving institutions, which will be able to issue Confirmations of Acceptance for Studies (CASs) in the knowledge that tuition fees will be met (note 8). 

The fund will also meet any additional basic visa costs for transferring students. This will be handled in a way that ensures that students will not be out-of-pocket at any point. 

For students who need to move from their current accommodation to continue their studies, arrangements will be made to meet one-off accommodation costs (for example, deposits for private sector accommodation that cannot be refunded). Students choosing to stay in their existing accommodation will be reimbursed for any net increase in their travel costs for academic year 2012-13 only. To be eligible for these payments, students will have to present either proof of payment in relation to accommodation costs, or a clear statement of projected travel costs, to the fund office at London Metropolitan University. 

A number of London Metropolitan University graduates who are applying for Tier 2 work visas have been affected by the revocation.  The UK Border Agency is considering the position of these students, and will provide clarification as soon as possible.

Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and chair of the task force, said: 

‘I would like to pay tribute to the courage and resilience shown by international students at London Metropolitan University throughout this extremely difficult and unsettling time. The task force will continue to work purposefully and constructively to ensure that they can begin the new academic year, either at London Metropolitan University or at a new university or college, with minimum disruption to their studies. 

‘I visited the University last Friday morning and was impressed not only by the maturity of the students, but by the dedication and professionalism of staff at the University who developed and implemented the clearing house at short notice, and who are providing counselling, advice and guidance for the students. The task force has also been helped in its work by UCAS, and by UK Border Agency officers temporarily based at London Metropolitan University who are providing students with on-the-spot advice on immigration matters. 

‘The fund established by the Universities Minister will help to meet the costs of students affected by the revocation who choose to move to another institution. We hope that it will also help to restore the confidence of international students, their families and communities in the UK as a place that welcomes international students, and values their contribution to the high standards of teaching and research in our universities and colleges.’

Notes

  1. Following the UK Border Agency’s decision on 29 August to revoke London Metropolitan University’s licence to sponsor non-EEA students, the Universities Minister, David Willetts, announced the formation of a task force to support students affected by the decision.
  2. The task force is led by Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, 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.
  3. The aim of the task force is to support London Metropolitan University to find suitable alternative courses with other higher education institutions for legitimate and appropriately qualified students, so that they can continue their studies in the UK.
  4. Students who have questions about the High Court judgement or who need academic advice, counselling or technical assistance with the online clearing house process are asked to contact the London Metropolitan University Help Centre on 0207 133 4141, emailinternational@londonmet.ac.uk, or stop by the walk-in centre at the Holloway Road campus on the 3rd Floor Tower Building. London Metropolitan University is asking students to let them know if they have found an option outside of the clearing house.
  5. UK Border Agency staff are on site at the University to provide advice via the helpline and student support team. The UK Border Agency Contact Centre number is 0870 606 7766. 
  6. For enquiries about the task force, please contact Liz McCarty, Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) (l.mccarty@hefce.ac.uk; 0117 931 7431).
  7. Institutions who are interested in accepting a London Metropolitan University student, and who have visa and other immigration-related queries, should contact their UK Border Agency Account Manager.  Institutions issuing a CAS to a transferring London Metropolitan University student are asked to notify the Border Agency via sponsorshipconfirmations@ukba.gsi.gov.uk.
  8. HEFCE-funded institutions who are receiving London Metropolitan University students are asked to waive any difference between the fee charged by their institutions and by London Metropolitan University. The waiver will be reimbursed by HEFCE from the fund. (Please contact Jennifer Radley-Davies on 0117 931 7441 or j.radley-davies@hefce.ac.uk with any queries.) Providers operating in the private sector who have recruited students from London Metropolitan University are asked to contact Derek Hicks, HEFCE Regional Consultant (0117 931 7460; d.hicks@hefce.ac.uk) as soon as possible if they envisage any difficulties arising due to fee differentials. The fund will also meet tuition fee costs that have not been refunded by London Metropolitan University if students are required to repeat elements of their course.

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