Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal
1. This letter provides an update on the latest position with London Metropolitan University, and also provides initial information for higher education institutions receiving London Metropolitan University international students affected by the licence revocation.
2. As you will be aware the UK Border Agency decided to revoke London Metropolitan University’s licence to sponsor international students on 29 August 2012. Since then I have been chairing a task force which brings together representatives from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Universities UK, the UK Border Agency, London Metropolitan University and the National Union of Students. I am grateful to the representatives of these organisations and to higher education institutions in the sector for their support.
3. The purpose of the task force is to support London Metropolitan University students 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.
4. At a High Court hearing on Friday 21 September the university was granted permission to apply for judicial review of the UK Border Agency’s decision. The Court made clear its concern for the protection of the interests of those students currently studying, or about to begin their studies at London Metropolitan University, and who have full and proper immigration status. Yesterday, the task force issued a statement on the HEFCE web-site that provides the latest information on the work of the task force.
5. To ensure that legitimate students are not adversely impacted by the licence revocation we remain committed to supporting existing London Metropolitan University international students to transfer to alternative higher education providers should they wish to. The Universities Minister has announced a £2 million fund to help support students in this situation. While we have not yet defined the details of this fund, its guiding principle is that legitimate students should not be out of pocket.
6. The task force expects that the majority of institutions receiving students should be able to offer comparable tuition costs; however in exceptional circumstances the fund will meet additional tuition fee costs sustained by students transferring. In these instances we would ask the receiving institution to waive the difference between the fee charged to the student(s) and the fee charged by London Metropolitan University for the remaining period of the course. We would also ask receiving institutions to waive any tuition fees costs that have not been refunded by London Metropolitan University if students are required to repeat elements of their existing course. HEFCE will reimburse these fee waivers from the fund. This should reassure receiving institutions, which will be able to issue Confirmations of Acceptance for Studies (CASs) in the knowledge that the difference in tuition fees will be met. As there is limited funding available we do ask institutions to try and offer comparable tuition costs where possible.
7. We are still determining the final details of how the fund will operate in practice, and will provide further details in the next two weeks. In the meantime, if you have any queries please contact Jennifer Radley-Davies (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
8. This fund is being provided to help restore the confidence of international students, their families and communities in the UK as a place that welcomes international students. I welcome your support in helping to achieve this.
Sir Alan Langlands