High Court permits varsity to seek full judicial review of government’s decision to scrap its licence to accept students from outside the EU

Hundreds of foreign students in London Metropolitan University (LMU) who were facing deportation won a reprieve on Friday after the High Court granted permission to the university to seek a full judicial review of the government’s decision to strip it of its licence to recruit and teach students from outside the European Union.

The ruling means that while the university would not be able to recruit new foreign students, pending a review, current students with legitimate immigration students would be allowed to continue their studies.

There are 2,600 such students, including some 300 from India. They were facing deportation if they did not find places in other universities by December.

The LMU was stripped of its “Highly Trusted Status” that allowed it to sponsor foreign students on the grounds it was sheltering potentially illegal immigrants in the guise of students. The U.K. Border Agency (UKBA) had claimed that the university suffered from “systemic problems”, resulting in an abuse of student visas.

According to the agency, many students had no legal right to stay in Britain, while some lacked adequate knowledge of English. The university also failed to monitor the attendance of its overseas students as required under the terms of its licence, it claimed.

In the court, the university sought a temporary injunction arguing that the UKBA’s action was unlawful.

While the judge, Justice Irwin, declined to grant an injunction, he allowed the university to seek a full judicial review of the UKBA’s decision on the grounds that it was unfair to hundreds of genuine students. He ruled that existing students who had full immigration status would be allowed to continue their studies until the dispute was resolved. Details of how many students would benefit from the ruling were not immediately known.

The university’s vice-chancellor Malcolm Gillies said the ruling was good for students who had been hugely confused by the UKBA’s decision and would give all sides a chance to look at the issue in a “sober and serious way”.

The university said the revocation of its licence was based on a “highly flawed” report by the UKBA and insisted that it had been “diligently performing stringent checks to try and ensure that all individuals who are studying at the university are legally entitled to do so”.

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