Home Office suspends university's licence to recruit foreign students

One of the most popular universities in England among international students has had its licence to recruit from overseas suspended by immigration officials. London Metropolitan University announced it had been suspended from the UK Border Agency's list of "highly trusted sponsors" while it worked to "clarify issues" over its handling of students from outside the European Union.

However, hours after the announcement by the university the Home Office was unable to confirm the suspension or the concerns that led to it.

Instead it issued a statement saying: "Our education providers have to meet strict standards, ensuring they provide high quality education, and take immigration responsibilities seriously."

However UKBA is understood to have identified problems in two recent audits surrounding attendance monitoring and English language testing.

London Met, which has around 10,000 foreign students on its books, is only the second university to have been suspended from the highly-trusted sponsor register since rules were tightened last year. Teesside University was suspended from the list in early February after concerns over "administrative processes", but reinstated in May.

Malcolm Gillies, vice-chancellor of the university, said that international students already enrolled would not be affected, while students granted a visa for study in 2012 will be able to take up their places this autumn.

"London Met has worked hard over the last year to rectify previous inadequacies, conducting three of its own audits," he said.

"This is a peak time [for recruitment] and we are keen to make sure the suspension is lifted. London Met will instantly rectify any residual deficits in its current practice."

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