With the rightful criticism of Michael Gove influencing the exam boards and their unfair treatment of British students,what is happening to overseas students at London Metropolitan University (LMU) could easily be missed. That would be a shame as it involves equally unfair treatment, albeit of a much smaller number of students. Being from outside of Britain these students and their parents have very little pressure to bring to bear on the Tory ministers.
So although I could argue that the immigration department of the Home Office is wrong in its overall treatment of foreign students and wrong in expecting public universities to enforce immigration policy for them; for the sake of simplifying the argument let’s accept the charges that Damian Green’s people have made against the LMU.
Now the claim leaked by the immigration department is that 25% of LMU’s existing overseas students are breaking the rules and the university administration has done nothing to stop this state affairs. To punish the university their license to teach overseas students has now been withdrawn. Great, but exactly who has the Damian Green punished?
I’m sure there are some embarrassed university administrators who may even possibly find this charge hanging over their heads in their future career paths. The university says it will lose £30 million by the loss of the license. Now if the university was just bricks and mortar or a private company, we could say, OK they deserve that.
But the LMU isn’t just bricks and mortar, and it isn’t a private company. It’s sum of all the teachers and students attending it. The loss of money will obviously hurt the remaining British students, but far worse is the effects on the present overseas students and those expecting to join LMU this year. Now these students have a very limited amount of time to find new universities to continue their studies.
Why couldn’t the jobsworths at immigration have gone to LMU this month and identified the supposed 25% of students breaking the rules? If they were so sure of the 25% figure why couldn’t they identify them? Why shouldn’t the other 75% of good students, (by immigration department reckoning), be allowed to finish their degrees?
If the government truly believes that the problems are down to bad administration why hasn’t the University minister, David Willetts, attempted to change out the people they feel are guilty.
Showing that spin is still the answer under the this present government, we get the leaks. Many of LMU’s overseas students have poor English language skills. Well that’s because English is not their mother tongue jobsworths. I’m sure many of the foreign kids at Eton have poor English language skills too. We should hope that by the end of their studies, their skills are much improved. We could also ask the jobsworths in immigration and the Tory front bench how good their skills are in a second language.
The logic of the attack on LMU’s overseas students and the university itself doesn’t make a lot of sense and certainly the innocent are being punished and Britain’s reputation abroad will take a dive. So why should Cameron and Osborne allow this to happen. Why don’t they call in Theresa May and tell her to sort it out.
Could it possibly be an ideologically driven action rather than being driven either by logic or common sense? Is it the failing cap the Tories have put on immigration numbers that’s driving it. So many experts have already told the government not to include students in the immigration cap as they are important to education institutions income? Haven’t we learned by now the dangers of targets?
Is it being one Britain’s worse performing universities that causes the immigration department action and lack of reaction by Willetts? Of course it is the university of the poorest, and I guess this also counts for overseas students, which possibly causes the higher dropout rate. So the government stops the EMA to reduce the flow of poor students into university and then goes after those that still make it. And all this in the district where last summer’s riots started.
To me a student, British or overseas, who makes it through to an LMU degree is worth 50 who take the Eton to Oxford path. Shame on you Damian Green. Weren’t you the man arrested for internet grooming just a few years ago? Shame on you Cameron. Where did that big society go? Did it go with Hilton to the US?
Added on the 7th September
Still more spin and leaks coming from the government rather than facts, but one number that may make their case even worse is that the number of overseas students due to receive letters from the immigration department is now given as 2,600. If the leak of 25% has any truth to it, and it could as easily be 10% or 50%, then we are saying 1,950 innocent students are caught up in this piece of government propaganda.
Added on the 14th September
What a difference a week makes.
Unfortunately not for the almost two thousand innocent (figure from government leaks) students at LMU. Damian Green is promoted as a sop to the right and his replacement, Mark Harper, best known for being rescued from a public meeting by the police for defending the Cameron government’s attempt to sell off public forests, lets David Willetts back into the decision making process. Now we hear that students may be removed from the government immigration caps and such. Also it’s rumoured the government will put aside £2 million to help the LMU students affected. It makes it look even more just a cynical attempt at spin and propaganda using immigration fears.
Still here’s an interesting quote from today’s <i>Independent.</i>
Professor Eric Thomas, vice-chancellor of Bristol University and president of Universities UK, told his body’s annual conference at Keele University: “Let us all ponder on how we would have reacted if that had happened to our sons and daughters in a foreign country.”
Added on the 22nd September
Another week goes by and fairness wins out.
LMU received a stay of execution from the courts yesterday. It was interesting as the judge, Mr. Justice Irwin, agreed to protect some of the threatened students based on an argument of fairness. Also interesting that the Home Office is beginning to back down on its original hard-nosed, and unfair, attitude.
Here is a quote on the BBC website made by an LMU lawyer.
At the High Court in London, Richard Gordon for London Met had said the issue “came down to fairness”.
Here are two quotes from today’s Guardian.
Irwin said he was moving to protect students from outside the European Economic Association area who were already in Britain and whose immigration status was in order. The temporary order covers more than 1,000 students already on LMU courses or who are starting on Monday, but many remain unhappy at their treatment.
The judge also ordered that those who had decided to transfer to other universities should not lose out financially. The Home Office has already said it would allow a further group of 400 students to complete their courses. The exact number reprieved was not clear on Friday night as the details were still being negotiated.
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