UK failed to treat deportation threat overseas students like human beings says leading vice chancellor
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Thursday 13 September 2012
The UK failed to treat more than 2,500 overseas students threatened with deportation at London Metropolitan University like human beings, a leading vice-chancellor claimed today.
Professor Eric Thomas, president of Universities UK - the body which represents vice-chancellors, told his annual conference at Keele University: “Let's all ponder on how we would have reacted if that had happened to our sons and daughter in foreign country.”
He was speaking as Universities Minister David Willetts sought to soothe vice-chancellors' anger over the deportation threat by announcing that - in future - the government would keep closer tabs on the number of foreign students leaving the country after their courses.
In addition, student numbers would be disaggregated from national figures on immigration so ministers would get a clearer indication of their impact on the overall figures.
Overseas students at LMU have been given three months to find alternative courses following a decision by the UK Border Agency to revoke its licence to teach foreign students after alleging one in four from overseas at the university did not have visas.
However, Professor Thomas, who is vice-chancellor of Bristol University, argued: “Around 3,000 students, of whom the vast majority were bona fide students, found themselves in a foreign country in a foreign country far from home without a course.
”I have had no rational explanation of how that fulfilled our duties to them as human beings never mind as students.“
He added: Everyone involved in this needs to remind themselves that families have paid for these courses and that, for these students, this is one of their major lifetime chances.
”Why were their needs not given absolute primacy in all these considerations?“
Professor Thomas' comments come the day before LMU seeks the go ahead in the courts for a judicial review of the decision to revoke its licence to teach overseas students.
In his address to the conference, Mr Willetts, acknowledged the importance of overseas students to the economy - estimating they brought in more than £8 billion a year in terms of fee income and spending.
He announced that he and Professor Thomas would be writing a joint article for publication in overseas newspapers - stressing there were no restrictions on overseas student numbers in the UK.
He added that the Government had set up a £2million fund to cover any costs incurred by overseas students having to transfer to other universities in the UK.
”I do hope no other institution will face a similar situation in the future,“ he went on, "but it makes sense for the sector to plan now as to how it would manage that risk if it does arise."
Both vice-chancellors and university lecturers said the Government's move in disaggregating the figures did not go far enough. They want student numbers recorded separately.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: ”It appears that the Government has finally recognised the damage its student visa policy coupled with threatening to depart thousands of fee-paying overseas students is doing to our international reputation.
“However, today's fudge will not solve the problem. Simply providing a mechanism to count overseas students does not remove them from net migration figures.”
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Kim Jong-un 'purge': Six North Korea officials missing for weeks 'may have been executed'
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Nathan Cirillo: Final pictures emerge of soldier moments before he was shot dead by Ottowa gunman
Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
- 1 Marijuana use by teenagers does not result in a lower IQ or worse exam results, study finds
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...
£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are looking for Founda...
Main Teacher Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: Teacher of Psychology An en...
£19200 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...