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.


118 thoughts on “London Metropolitan University

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  • guano

    It is the sole function of a Tory government to wind people up by breaking up the hard-won freedoms of egalitarianism. This particular bunch of war criminals, unlike Thatcher, winds up and then backs down, leaving frustration and bills in their wake. Thatcher simply butchered every kind of moral or social asset that got in the way of sheer greed.

    Inshallah, this particular piece of chaos will be reversed quickly. Cameron is nothing more than a wooden totem pole for the Tory insane to pray to. Worshippers cause chaos and await their reward. When chaos descends, the totem pole remains silent and decisions have to be changed.

  • Tony0pmoc

    Guano,

    The political labels don’t work. Simply because some people try and align themselves to a tribal label does not mean that their best friend, cant be aligned to a different label and invite all your mates to his tribal party and no one can tell the difference without labels. Most of us are human.

  • Jay

    Why do people want to come to this country and join our rat race.
    Surely our materialistic egocentric, self absorbing lifestyle would be worth avoiding.

    Please stay away from my winberry bushes.

  • Fritz

    @ Gary (7.45pm) :

    Perhaps this govt. would be quite happy to see half of the universities close down. Have the ruling elites ever really believed in educating the masses? Far too dangerous!

  • enki

    After I had completed my degree, while I was working and awaiting my graduation, my department got in touch to ask that I come to the office to certify my attendance. I explained that I was no longer attending the department, and was working. They told me until I graduated I was listed as a student and the UKBA required the attendance of all students to be monitored, so could I take a day off work to come in and sign their form. I said, no I couldn’t take a day off work, and any way I wasn’t attending so they should just put that in their records. They then threatened that not complying with the department’s regulation could have an impact on my ability to graduate and unless all students were shown to be in attendance the department could lose the right to have foreign students.

    As it was the computer science department, I asked if the records were kept electronically, and how deliberately falsifying their attendance records would then impact their duties under the data protection act. They stopped getting in touch after that.

  • OldMark

    ‘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.’

    And as ex Home Office whistleblower Moxon explains Craig, the Home Office under a succession of ministers of both parties implicitly accepted your value judgment that a failure to follow up and actually enforce the rules was ‘good’. Thus, while employed at the Home Office, Moxon observed- ‘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.’

    In all probability therefore, the Hodge /Migrationwatch figure of 60,000 student visa overstayers is too conservative.

    And for those who would like to tar Moxon with the BNP/EDL brush, in his book (mentioned by Jimmy Giro), he tells us that, prior to working at the Sheffield office of the IND, he was active in the Sheffield Lib Dems- another thing he shares with Craig.

  • glenn

    A 5% attendance? I got hauled up by the dean for a lack of attendance, even though it was at least 10 times yours, Craig – twice! But then, the degree was a science/engineering hybrid – not something one could bluff their way through with clever waffle, no disrespect of course 😉

    What struck me as surprising about this whole business is the inevitable massive blow to UK universities’ reputation abroad. We’re supposed to be really outstanding in attracting foreign students which are just about the life-blood to a university these days. Does this sort of thing really help? Isn’t there likely to be demands for refunds, possibly with damages, for all the innocent students who had their degrees cut short for no good reason?

    Not sure I buy into this “if people have settled here (albeit illegally) then they should be allowed to stay” line. There are rules in place, and why should cheats circumvent the rules but then be given a free pass? If I bought my house with stolen money, or buried the original owner in the back garden twenty years ago, why should I be allowed to carry on living there just because I’ve put down roots now?

  • CS

    Techy said:

    “‘Isn’t forcing immigrants out a BNP\EDL policy?’

    Yes, it is.”

    As usual, Techy lies. The BNP advocates “voluntary incentives for immigrants and their descendants to return home”

    Anyhow, who gives a shit what the BNP say. They’re just a security services operation to channel public anger about Britain’s policy of mass immigration against the immigrants rather than the traitors in government and their New World Order followers who promote this policy of genocide against the English working class.

    That way the most outspoken critics of immigration can be identified and pissed on by the tiny minority of politically correct self-hating English and the immigrants with a settler mentality. The net result is demoralization, a good fist step in the destruction of a nation.

  • DavidH

    Sure, they should be kicked out if they don’t attend their courses. And if the universities are profiting from selling those courses then they should also assist in monitoring that the students are actually studying. As Craig says, the universities should be monitoring the students’ studies anyway – that’s THE prime function of a university.

    While we are on the subject, what about home students also? They should be kicked off their courses and have their grants taken back if they don’t attend. Sorry, forgot, there are no grants any more, I mean have their loans taken back. 5% attendance to get a first class degree? What kind of people are these universities supposed to be producing? Productive members of society or subversive troublemakers???

  • Colin Carr

    Meanwhile, in Australia they recognise that foreign students enrolling at their universities is good for the Australian economy.
    Sad that the zenophobic Gauleiter May and her cronies failed to spot that one.

  • DavidH

    Yes, that’s the point. If some “students” are not what they claim to be then investigate that and kick them out. Don’t shut down a whole university program that is doing otherwise good work and damage a very valuable industry. Even if you have no humanitarian sense, think of the business perspective. Unless favorable editorials in the Daily Mail are your only goal, not any rational government policy…

  • Gary

    Fritz,

    Not sure what there intentions are. Where I live in the North East the local Universities are very dependent on overseas students. I would think given their numbers so is the local economy. I enjoyed teaching most of them. It made it more diverse.

  • John Goss

    Considering that universities are today businesses rather than the educational establishments of equality they used to be, government has no right to intervene, and neither have government agencies, unless the business is fabricating accounts or selling weapons to terrorist states, or other crimes of that order (remember BAE fighter plane bribes). Since the only criterion of a business is profit, and that is the main Tory credo, it amazes me that Hodge, and in particular, the border agency, chooses to intervene, and certainly has no right to close down a legitimate business that is doing good work.

  • nuid

    “As usual, Techy lies. The BNP advocates ‘voluntary incentives for immigrants and their descendants to return home’”

    Canspeccy/Alfred/Albert alert! Posting as “CE” (although we were led to believe in the past that that was a different person?)

    Mr “Genocide in Leicester” is here folks, throwing mud as ever …

  • nuid

    Apologies to the current “CE” on the Ardin/Assange thread. I wouldn’t like to lump you in with Alfred.

  • craig Post author

    Some interesting views on the fact I only attended 5% of lectures, reflecting a UKBA-worthy miscomprehension of university education. I probably worked harder than anyone else. Rather than lectures I was in the library, and other specialist libraries, reading hundreds and hundreds of books, articles, dissertations and manuscripts. The point is that it is important that people learn; that measurement of class attendance is not measurement of learning. I gave myself as an example of it being not true. I also could cite examples of people who attended meticulously and learnt bugger all.

  • Steve Cook

    I agree, Craig, that class attendance is not a particularly valid measure. In any event, I don’t think student’s performance should even be measured in this way, at least not on behalf of the immigration authorities. If someone wants to come to study in the UK under a student visa, it is entirely their own prerogative whether they study hard, are lazy buggers, do their studies mostly inside or outside of lessons etc. It’s not really anyone else’s business. They’ve paid their money, after all.

    What should be monitored, though, is whether they have used that student visa fraudulently to work full time in the UK instead of studying or whether they have used that student visa to work illegally in the UK after their student visa has ended.

    That is not right. It’s not right for those overseas students who are playing by the rules and it’s not right for those indigenous workers who are being displaced. This is an especially acute problem in times of recession when work is tight anyway.

  • Jay

    What we naively dont realise, the concept of Democracy never was a realty and, a success

    It was only a Greek tradgedy set fot the stage.

    How foolish we are.

  • Jon

    When I was at university, some ten years ago or so, I’m not sure I’d have been permitted to continue on the course if I’d only registered 5% attendance. I agree that its a poor measure of learning, but if – in the case of overseas students – we don’t use attendance to check the institution is genuine, what should we use instead?

  • Jon

    Without wanting to open a full can of worms, I think BNP policy does tend towards a stronger position than just voluntary/paid repatriation. I heard one of their spokesman on R4, at the time of the last election, getting an unusually severe roasting from Charlotte Wossername.

    She was pressing him on the detail of their immigration policy, and it was stated as “we’ll shut the door completely”, until she pointed out that most illegal immigration is in the form of visa overstay. Would he advocate harming business and tourism by stopping the visa and visitor programmes? Well, that was where he started tying himself in knots.

  • nevermind

    Lets hope that none of them are squatting, that would really be the end for them, persecuted by paranoid schemers who want to be seen to the right of Adolf, and criminalised by the political police, serving us to justify their own existence and not looking forward to the 20% cuts they face over the next five years.

    Being young, furrin’ and in education, trying to make ends meet can land you in a whole new lot of trouble.

    It feels as if this coalition is going for the easy targets, not those coming in via HGV’s and via small launches, but those that are registered and easy to trace, rather questioning their motives to get educated and their existence, than dealing with those who try their best to come in on the quiet, stay clandestine by working for gang masters and other rogues.

  • Passerby

    Some interesting views on the fact I only attended 5% of lectures, reflecting a UKBA-worthy miscomprehension of university education. I probably worked harder than anyone else. Rather than lectures I was in ………..examples of people who attended meticulously and learnt bugger all.

    You understood what higher education is about, and set about it in a fashion that suited you the best. On the other hand there are those undergraduates, whom have learnt to be spoon fed and “trained” and these pass the exams too, alas, their education goes wanting, and the subsequent problem solving capabilities are reflected in the methodically following the orthodox methods right or wrong.

    In one of his many pontifications the war criminal Tony Blair revealed that as a “prime minister” he had the task of making many decisions, and he did make these decision speedily without worrying about the right or wrong! Patently his speedy decisions have left a whole lot of shit to be cleared up, reflecting the resultants of a trained mindset.

  • craig Post author

    Jon,

    I am a dinosaur I know, but I think that if you can pass ther exams you have learnt, and if you can’t you have not learnt. That does not seem to me a difficult measure.

  • Jon

    Craig, true enough. But does that mean that the status of an overseas student can only be tested once a year at exam time?

    Perhaps regular contact with a tutor/supervisor might be useful (although in my experience, there is only staff capacity to make this available for final year undergrads and postgrads).

    Or perhaps the solution is to vet the institutions more and the students less; I would imagine the level of fraud at the LMU would be low, and it would be the fake schools that would need to be checked more regularly and rigorously. As you say, institutions can be treated differently.

  • Steve Cook

    I don’t think students’ performance on a course is any business of the immigration authorities. They have paid for their course and they should be completely free to work their arse off or toss it off and fail. The only people who should be interested in that are the colleges themselves and, perhaps at a broader level, policy makers in government who are concerned with attracting more or fewer students in the future as well as ensuring that UK educational institutions maintain a high standard.

    What the immigration authorities should only be concerned with is bogus overseas student who are fraudulently using the student visa to work full-time instead of being on a course or who are using it to continue to work and stay in the country after their course (and student visa) has ended.

    That is all they should be concerned with.

  • technicolour

    TOTAL POLITICS INTERVIEW 2010:

    Q: ….Even though you like the spin chapter in Mein Kampf so much. In your 2005 manifesto you said: “We will end immigration to the UK and reduce our land’s population burden by creating firm but voluntary incentives for immigrants and their descendants to return home.” What does “firm” mean and what does “home” mean, because they are quite difficult to define?

    A: Firm would mean that certainly in the case of serious criminals and illegals and people whose right to work was removed. For instance, when we left the European Union, there wouldn’t be a choice about it. They would have to go.

    Q: Where?

    A: If we are talking about the Eastern Europeans, who have got the right to come here, it is obvious where home is. With most people, it is clear where they have come from. If people have entered this country and torn their documents up, then even if they have been granted asylum, they shouldn’t have been, and we would reverse that.

    Q: But if you don’t know where they have come from, you can’t return them there.

    A: If you want to, you can virtually find out which village they come from in Africa with DNA tests. Someone has got to take them. But their presence here isn’t fair. And it is not legal.

    Q: Just because you want to send them somewhere, doesn’t mean that the state you want to send them to has to accept them. What do you do if they say no?

    A: Well… we’ll find some silly European liberal state which will happily take them. Someone will take them.

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