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British university launches legal fight over visa status

04 september 2012, 14:33
0
A London university on Monday announced it was launching legal action over the government's decision to revoke its right to sponsor visas, a move that threatens thousands of students with deportation, AFP reports.

London Metropolitan University had its Highly Trusted Status -- which allowed it to sponsor visas for students from outside the EU -- stripped by the UK Border Agency on Wednesday after a six-month audit found "serious and systemic failings".

The university released a statement on Monday confirming it had instructed its lawyers "to commence urgent legal action... so that its students can return to study as a matter of urgency.

"Following the leak of the UK Border agency's decision eight days ago which 'announced' the revocation, the university has now had the opportunity to read the report," it added.

"Working with its advisers, the university has conducted a thorough review of UKBA's 'evidence', and in the strongest possible terms challenges the outcome."

The university said it would reveal more details of the legal action later this week, maintaining there was "no evidence of systemic failings" at the institution.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said inspections had shown that students' English fell short of the necessary standards and that the university had failed to monitor if students were turning up for classes or not.

Other checks had shown that more than a quarter of the students at the university who were checked in a random sample lacked the necessary permission to remain in Britain.

Green told BBC radio that the Border Agency had found "a serious systemic failure where it appears that the university doesn't have the capacity to be a proper sponsor".

The move means current overseas students have 60 days to enroll on a course elsewhere, with more than 2,000 facing deportation if they fail to find another university, according to the National Union of Students.

The minister told parliament on Monday that there would be a task force providing advice and support for any displaced students.

He also sought to reassure prospective students that "this will not be replicated across the university sector".

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