London Metropolitan University 118

First a statement of interest. I have given talks to classes at London Metropolitan University, attended a couple of conferences there, and been quite heavily engaged as an unpaid adviser to the Ghanaian side in (so far successful) negotiations for LMU acourses to be taught in Ghana.

There is no doubt that LMU is a real university, with some of its teaching and courses of world class. There is also no doubt that it does more than perhaps any other UK university to bring in students from communities which have not traditionally been high-achieving in education.

There is also no doubt at all that LMU had many hundred genuine, hard working overseas students who were performing well on their courses, and who have now been forced out, without notice. For the government to say they are being helped to find other universities is not good enough. In many cases they will be disadvantaged by lack of commonality of content with their new co-students on the first two years of the course, not to mention the massive disruption of moving home, losing part-time jobs, friends, babycare or healthcare arrangements etc. Suddenly to ban a university not just from accepting new international students, but from teaching all those it already has, is an act of monstrous disproportion affecting two thousand of people.

That there has been virtually no public outcry is a measure of just how accustomed we have become to extreme abuse of arbitrary power by government – and of the easy acceptance of the anti-immigrant agenda by mainstream media.

There is no doubt there was a massive problem with illegal immigration disguised as education. It focused on language schools in particular. There are of course some excellent language schools which do a good job, but there were certainly hundreds which scarcely functioned at all. I know, as personal friends, a number of “students” who have been here – in one case for over eight years – and literally never once visited their supposed place of education. It is also a fact that several of these fake colleges were owned and run by organised crime, as one of a number of rackets of the interests that established them. The government has closed down many scores of these fake colleges in the last three years. That is good. As Margaret Hodge was complaining yesterday, it had deported very few of the 60,000 or so identified fake students here from those colleges.

Unlike Ms Hodge, I regard that as good also. While in favour of preventing illegal entry, I am not in favour of uprooting people forcibly from wherever they have succeeded in making a home.

The root of London Metropolitan University’s problems was a stupid “anti-elitist” New Labour decision that real, large, world-respected universities must be treated in the immigration rules exactly like a pretend language school housed in one room above a laundrette.

A university is perfectly capable of judging who is and who is not performing their studies adequately – indeed that is one of the prime functions of a university. Yet the UK Border Agency has imposed a whole new raft of extra criteria like percentage of lectures attended, and bank balances to be maintained, and forced the universities at their own cost to put in place resource expensive systems for monitoring it (yes, even the bank balances).

Yet these criteria are nothing to do with academic achievement – I attended less than 5% of lectures over my university career, and the bare minimum of tutorials I could get away with, yet I got a first. Similarly the university is best placed to know what level of English language understanding is needed for which particular course, but again the UK Border Agency imposes its own criteria – and indeed this has been the major reason given for acting against London Metropolitan University.

Universities are supposed to be self-governing institutions. The intrusion of the immigration authorities into their running is an appalling development which should alarm everyone. Overseas students who fail cease to be students; at that stage the university should and will inform the immigration authorities of their change of status. It is not the job of UKBA to determine who has passed and who failed. As long as the university recognises an individual as part of the university community; that is their legal status. The UK Borders Agency is not a degree-awarding body. It should attend to its own business.

These stupid and intrusive regulations must be repealed.

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118 thoughts on “London Metropolitan University

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  • domesticextremist

    Neither this government, the last or the next gives two hoots about immigration.
    They work for business and business just loves access to a sea of cheap labour that immigration provides.

    To that end UKBA is dysfunctional by design – Deliberately understaffed and poorly trained, they turn a blind eye or are wilfully incompetent when it comes to letting in and removing illegal entrants, whilst putting on a great amount of theatre to harass legitimate travellers at the borders.

    The move against LMU is gesture politics at its worst, but one the Daily Mail segment of society will delight in seeing. Rest assured that the immigration numbers will not be significantly lower at the end of this government’s time than at the start.

  • JimmyGiro

    “I attended less than 5% of lectures over my university career, and the bare minimum of tutorials I could get away with, yet I got a first.”

    I’d like to see you try that on a physics and chemistry course!

    You are right to point out that this all stems from Zanu Labour. And what’s more, the Fabians are still at liberty to perform their evil in the public sector, which is overly influenced by the ‘Unite Union’, the waffen-wing of the evil Fabian socialists.

  • technicolour

    Can’t find the report saying 60,000 students were ‘identified as fake’. Or Hodge’s recent comment? All I could find was: a National Audit Office report from March which the Telegraph reported “reveals the UK Border Agency *probably* let through 40,000 to 50,000 illegal students in this year” (my emphasis)

    The report itself says “We estimate between 40,000 and 50,000 individuals might have entered through Tier 4 in its first year of operation to work rather than study. This estimate is based on college enrolment rates and changes in patterns of applications and refusals but it is not possible to know with certainty.”

    The “Detailed Methodology” section of the report says: “the consultation was never intended to be generalizable. We have not sought to extrapolate findings or estimates to the whole population and acknowledge that sponsors responding to the consultation may differ from those which did not respond”.

    Otherwise the 60,000 ‘fakes’ correlates with a Migration Watch report “More Than 60,000 Bogus Students May Have Entered UK, Migration Watch Claims” which is debunked here:

    “The original survey was biased to begin with. The survey used a risk-based profile to interview applicants who were judged (in the Home Office’s view) to be most at risk of entering the UK illegally. These were from countries such as Burma, Sri Lanka and India and in no way reflect the make up of the wider international student population.”

  • Mary

    It was raised in PMQ this morning. Theresa May nodding like a donkey as Cameron answered. He sounds more and more like the PR man he was in a previous life. I will put the link up when Hansard comes through.

    Briefly mentioned in this live link.

    1221: Labour’s Stephen Timms asks about the visa situation at London Metropolitan University. He says the PM is damaging the UK’s reputation. Mr Cameron says there were “real abuses going on”.

  • technicolour

    Well, if Hodge is claiming that there are 60,000 identified fake students in the UK, she is not telling the truth.

  • Komodo

    @ JG
    “Get Your Arts Degree Here” – inscribed on every toilet roll holder in every university science department in the country….very true.

    God, I’m evil.

  • onamission

    So in your view there is no difference between human rights and illegal immigration.
    Let’s forget about education and focus on what has happened.
    Someone at the London Metropolitan University has thought it a great idea to offer a way for immigrants to get visa’s, which also includes relatives as long as they paid some cash to the University.
    No checks were made on these people from anyone at the London Metropolitan University or if they were the results were kept quiet. “Yep that’s the truth”
    But now the UK Border Agency has found out what has been happening a large number of so called students have not actually been attending courses and disappeared into the ether.
    So when was the London Metropolitan University going to let the secret out?
    Well guess what, the word on the street is that public opinion is against illegal immigrants, but here we are seeing so called responsible intelligent individuals that have been cocooned from the real world shouting it’s not fair that your stopping so called foreign students, and then we have the human rights angle about sorting this mess out.

    Playtime is over….

    I say well done to the UK Borders Agency for doing a difficult job.

  • Komodo

    Someone at the London Metropolitan University has thought it a great idea to offer a way for immigrants to get visa’s, which also includes relatives as long as they paid some cash to the University.

    A serious allegation. Can you substantiate it?

    Yes, there are certainly loopholes, and yes, they are certainly exploited by some. When I was an undergrad, you were required to sign attendance sheets for lectures and practicals. A 5% attendance rate would have bought you a speedy exit from academia, (but that was a decent university, and I was doing a science degree…*leers*) Is it beyond the wit of a politician with a PPE degree from Oxford to connect the UKBA and the universities? 5% attendance = out on your ear? Probably.

  • technicolour

    How the report summary itself can say this:

    “We estimate between 40,000 and 50,000 individuals might have entered through Tier 4 in its first year of operation to work rather than study”

    while in the backroom the writers are frantically pointing out that:

    “the consultation was never intended to be generalizable. We have not sought to extrapolate findings or estimates to the whole population”

    is quite moving.

  • JimmyGiro

    Steve Moxon is the Home Office whistle-blower who exposed illegal failures to apply immigration rules, and wrote The Great Immigration Scandal.

    Here is his take on the matter:

    This is 2004 (and the other exposés since) all over again: wholesale fraud of the student visa ‘system’. No real checks – and now they have even removed intentions-testing at point of-entry, despite further slippage in the introduction of e-borders, now to 2015 at the earliest – no removal/deportation even when individual abusers are made known to the Home Office; not even the revoking of visas; and no removal/deportation when the visas expire.

    It’s even worse (as former colleagues confirm), now that the Home Office has passed the buck to the education institutions, which are in no position to be responsible for immigration control, and do not have a clear interest in preventing fraudulent circumvention of immigration controls – indeed, there is a clear conflict of interest in that they draw down funding in respect of student numbers. Yet the UKBA hadn’t even visited 70% of them.

    Buck-passing is the favourite tactic by the Home Office. It distances itself by setting up an agency, which it then renames when it goes belly-up (the UKBA was formerly the Immigration & Nationality Directorate), and then dumped responsibility for work visas on employers, just as it is now doing to universities and English colleges.

    A sample of these third parties is occasionally taken to find an instance of inevitable falling down on the job of immigration control, and we’re in usual Home Office ‘news management’ mode again, instead of doing its job. [Christopher Monckton represented an employer who was prosecuted even though he had been to see senior figures within (what was then) Managed Migration, asking them to process applications given that he could have no idea who was genuine and who was bogus. There was also the father and son factory owners (the Foxes) who were jailed for seven years through no apparent fault of their own.]

    A student application needs to be checked that: 1. there is a genuine acceptance by an educational institution; 2. that the student has enough funds to support him for the course without recourse to working; and 3. that the student is who he/she says he/she is. None of these were done when I was in post. Sponsorship letters could be in Chinese and we’d be told to accept then. No financial records were required in practice. Any old letter looking like its from a college would be taken as genuine. Everything was simply taken on trust. No forgery training was available. Any reference to a senior course worker resulted in instruction to grant anyway.

    What was lacking in particular was liaison with the educational institution to ensure that there is genuine acceptance on to a course, but it is quite another matter to dump the whole system in the hands of the college/university. And this was done ineptly, with fourteen changes to guidance issued since the change, making it hopelessly complex for even universities to administer. No wonder London Met University is seeking a judicial review. It’s a shame the Home Office cannot be prosecuted for persistent total incompetence and intentional failure to mal-administer an immigration ‘system’ the Home Office believes is unworkable even in principle. It has been high time for decades that the Home Office did its job instead of its focus on being the lead organisation for the implementation of the PC-fascist political religion.

  • Steve Cook

    It is right that students from overseas should be allowed and encouraged to come to the UK to study.

    It is right that students from overseas should be allowed to work while studying here.

    It is right that people who have come from overseas to work or that people who initially came here as a student but who have now left their course but wish to continue to stay in the UK to work should be subject to the usual and proper tests for economic need and suitability for the work they have come for.

    It is not right that people from overseas should use the student visa system to circumvent the usual economic migrant test for economic need and suitability for the work they have come for

    It is right that the UK authorities, on our behalf, should seek to enforce the distinction, mentioned above and seek to expel those people from overseas who can be clearly shown to have committed the fraud of migrating here for work under the guise of being a student

    It is completely intolerable that the authorities should play such a heavy hand as to expel real students along with bogus ones.

    It is completely intolerable that the authorities and the universities in question have allowed it to come to this.

  • durak

    What puzzles me is how they pay 9K+ a year for tuition and then work?

    Surely the fees imply that they actually participate on the course!

    So they come over here – hand over 9K – and then work?

    Something not quite right here.

  • kingfelix

    “It is right that students from overseas should be allowed to work while studying here.”
    It’s well and good, but a balance should be struck. In Taiwan, those on student visas are required to rack up 20 hours inside the library / quiet study areas each week, to ensure that those who are here on work visas are not unfairly squeezed out of employment by moonlighting students prepared to work illegally (making more per hour, as they won’t need to pay tax).
    The rights of other workers (domestic and foreign) need to be balanced against those of foreign students.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq Association

    I like your comment Mary, ‘He[agent Cameron] sounds more and more like the PR man he was in a previous life.

    Agent Cameron is of course reaching towards the 1% inspired by learning about his ancestors, the Levitas.

    Arthur Levita of Panmure Gordon stockbrokers, together with Sir Ewen Cameron (London head of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, and member of the Council for Foreign Bondholders and the Committee for Chinese Bondholders) played key roles in arranging loans from the Rothschild syndicate, including Jacob Schiff, to the Japanese central banker (later Prime Minister) Takahashi Korekiyo to finance the Japanese war against Orthodox Christian Russia in 1905. Cecil Levita was chairman of the London County Council. The Jewess Enid Levita married Sir Ewen Cameron’s son.

    Enid Levita is David Cameron’s paternal grandmother. His father, Ian Cameron, was a successful stockbroker, a partner at Panmure Gordon, like his father and grandfather.

  • Nextus

    Universities with Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) do actually make their own judgements about which overseas students have a valid claim for a Tier 4 visas. LMU lost its HTS status because the UKBA found a significant level of visa fraud.

    At a briefing day on this issue we were told that to gain a Tier 4 study visa, all overseas students need produce a Certificate of Acceptance, and prove they can afford the tuition fees (often around 30 grand) and the living expenses (estimated at £7200 in central London) on a yearly basis. The university needs to see proof that the full amount has been in their bank account for at least 28 days. There are many other criteria, including English language competency to CEFR Level B2.

    If the universities wave anyone through without the proper checks, they could stand to lose their HTS and thus a significant whack of their income. Some students were placed in a serious predicament because they had to leave the country within 30 days, and we had to switch them to distance learning. For those with families it caused a huge amount of grief.

  • Villager

    Nextus, i thought the Uni issues a CAS on its normal student acceptance criteria, incl some amount of upfront fees, but the rest of the criteria under this PBS (points-based-system) are for the UKBA to verify once they receive the visa application.

    The UKBA could’ve managed this whole thing better surely, including banning future students and weeding out the actual defaulters rather than painting everyone with the same brush.

  • Mary

    Here he is Mark in full flow. Although it’s called Prime Minister’s Questions, the first half was solely him and Miliband point scoring, after both had offered condolences for the three servicemen killed in Aghanistan since the last sitting, and after Cameron had wallowed in the glory of the Olympics and Paralympics.


    Stephen Timms (East Ham) (Lab):
    Hundreds of young people from outside Europe chose London Metropolitan university, confident in British higher education. The Prime Minister needs to tackle visa fraud, but will he lift the threat to deport students who have paid their fees and complied fully with all the rules? Why is he so damaging the standing of British universities around the world?

    The Prime Minister:
    I know that the right hon. Gentleman speaks with considerable experience and wants to speak up on behalf of his constituency. Having looked at this case and at the action that the Border Agency has taken, it seems to me that there were some real abuses. I want Britain to be open to students. Let us be clear: anyone who can speak English and who has a university place is able to come here and study at our universities, but the Minister for Immigration has rightly been very hard in closing down bogus colleges and in ensuring that action is taken when good universities, like this one, are not meeting the rules. That must be right if we are to control immigration.

    So he is Jewish on his paternal side. I do hate the use of the word Jewess. It was in common used in the 40s and 50s which was a hangover from the war I suppose. That quote was from Wikipedia I guess.

  • Gary

    My experience of teaching in University taught me how dependent UK Institutions are on foreign students. If they stop coming there would be a series financial crisis in many.

  • DRE

    >What puzzles me is how they pay 9K+ a year for tuition and then work?

    >Surely the fees imply that they actually participate on the course!

    >So they come over here – hand over 9K – and then work?

    >Something not quite right here.

    Pay the first term fee and then disappear.

    60,000? I’ve met many at ‘English school’ working full time in London without any concern that La Migra will deport them, get married here and stay etc – I suspect the true figure is more likely in the hundred thousands.

  • Vronsky

    I don’t want to push a fringe topic towards becoming *the* topic but nevertheless I once heard a lecturer say that if you swapped around all the science/maths teachers with all the arts teachers then the science/maths teachers might muddle through, but not vice versa. The exception is music but for long that was considered one of the sciences anyway.

    Interestingly, if unsurprisingly, the immigration thing has to be given a different spin in Scotland. The unionist MSM up here are desperately trying to portray free tertiary education as a Bad Thing because evil alien species like the English prey upon it. The obsessive nationalism of the anti-nationalists is bewildering.

  • technicolour

    I’ve met many people who are one legged. I suspect that the true figure of one-legged people in the UK is – ooh – 100,000. No, make that more. Hundreds of thousands of legless people!

    1. Statistically, of course, we all have less than two legs
    2. Figure above increases at weekends

  • technicolour

    Vronsky; even arts teachers take maths & science GCSEs. But a good ploy, according to arts teacher friends when called on to teach a maths class (common occurrence) is to ask the class to explain things/work things out. And guess what? Someone always does, and then they explain it to the rest. (It’s called ‘playing to your pupils’ strengths or ‘jamming it’, I believe)

    I’d like to see someone who hasn’t read Chaucer trying to teach it…

  • Brendan

    Isn’t forcing immigrants out a BNP\EDL policy? ‘Aint no black in the union-jack, etc, if you’ll forgive the quote.

    Disturbing indeed. There is always a PR line, a condescending justification, for all sorts of skullduggery. It’s patently clear that Cameron has zero sense of shame. He will keep trucking on, smiling glibly, waffling to feign intelligence, and doing what he’s told by … well, who? I know not, but Cameron is another nobody in a position way above his merits, whose ignorance is actually rather dangerous. Ditto: his Hero Blair.

    One can’t help but think that these people, the decision makers, are basically bad people. Not just incompetent, but malicious. As such, I’ve no doubt that teh terrorism spectre will be raised soon, accusations against people who can’t answer. Pretty dismal.

  • Tony0pmoc

    I think immigration has been very positive to the UK. Yes I am an immigrant too. Originally from North Western France about 1600 and more recently from Oldham to try and educate these Southern Softies how to talk proper and mean it. It’s not my fault that large parts of Oldham are now alcohol free.

  • Tony0pmoc

    Whilst most of you on here slagged off the London Olympics, I thought we showed the Rest of the World, that we are the nicest people in the World. I am proud to be ENGLISH. How did the Frogs do? And did the Israelis even turn up? I thought they would be crap, but the people of London were as nice as if they had all come from Up North.

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