UK failed to treat deportation threat overseas students like human beings says leading vice chancellor


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.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower