Education consultants say that LMU is a favourite in the UK, especially among Indian students

It was only after two years of preparation and almost six months of waiting for her delayed visa call that Ruthra Krishnan finally went to London, a month ago, to join the London Metropolitan University (LMU) for a course in designing. Today, her family is on tenterhooks hoping that she is not asked to return to India.

“She decided on this university because it is considered meritorious, and the fees were affordable,” says her mother, Radhika.

A sense of panic prevailed among families of several students who left the city a few weeks ago to join the university. On Thursday, LMU lost its ‘Highly Trusted status,’ granted by the UK Border Agency, after failing to convince auditors from the agency that it was fit to recruit overseas students.

The college, say education consultants, is one of the more popular universities in Britain, especially for Indian students. Among the 300 students from the country, there is a significant proportion from south India. A counsellor with the University here, says while Chennai with its large pool of engineers aspiring to pursue a masters degree in computer science or management has many applicants to the University, this is often less than the number from Coimbatore, because colleges there have a stronger pull towards LMU.

“Andhra Pradesh leads in the number of post graduate applicants. Sri Lanka and Kerala too have a huge number of students applying for undergraduate courses,” she says. The University also offers foundation courses for candidates who are not eligible to help them clear certain tests, after which they can apply again. “The recent popular courses are pharmaceutical sciences, medical genetics and nutrition, which are very popular among students in Chennai,” the counsellor says.

Consultants say there would be at least 65 students from Tamil Nadu enrolled with the university now. “The fact that students with a second-class degree are not even allowed to apply for its MBA courses made me believe merit is very important here,” said Namrata Balajee, who has an offer letter from the University.

Also popular are specialised programmes in IT, management and architecture. Until last month, the university had offices in Delhi and Chennai, which were closed recently. The closing down of the offices had nothing to do with the recent incident, say officials. Sources say the number of applicants from South East Asia to the university and U.K. in general, had come down significantly this year due to stricter visa norms. “As most of the counselling procedures have been outsourced to agents, running the offices did not seem viable anymore,” says an official associated with the university.

The university also has a memorandum of understanding with Loyola College and offers scholarships through the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation. A British council representative has asked students to contact the helpline which will guide them through possible transfers. “This is the first time the UKBA has done something like this and it is an isolated case. Other educational institutes are not going to be affected. The council, with other organisations, is putting together a set of guidelines which will be out soon. The students need not panic because we will try our best to find alternatives for them,” he added.

Many anxious students though, are already in the UK, and will have to look for other avenues within the next two months. The university has set up a helpline for students affected by the decision: +44 207 1334141.

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