Over 300 activists, lecturers, and members of the University and College Union gathered outside the Home Office in central London yesterday (Sept 5th) against the UK Borders Agency’s decision to revoke the London Metropolitan Univeristy’s licence to teach international students.
The UK Border Agency removed London Metropolitan University’s trusted status – the licence for London Met Uni to accredit international students – last week, claiming their responsibilities for hosting foreign students were being abused. This decision made last week means that thousands of students enrolled at London Met could be deported, unless another university agrees to take them on. Meanwhile, a petition signed by more than 2500 people was handed in to officials, which demands an amnesty for the 2700 international students at LMU at risk of deportation.
After the congregation was addressed by a variety of speakers from many countries (including Brazil, and the US), there was a dynamic march to 10 Downing Street, closely followed and controlled by police. Demonstrators chanted “UKBA – deportations no way”, “Hands off London Met”, and “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts.”
Cliff Snaith, a lecturer at London Met in charge of undergraduate learning who led the petition delegation, said: “We asked them to reverse the decision and explained the misery that was being caused to our students. This is entirely unnecessary. “I also explained that the university may well be taking judicial review action against them – but as they know perfectly well, we don’t want that to need to happen. We want them to reverse the decision so that all of that expense is unnecessary – simple as that.”
Nigerian Bello Lukman, a London Met student and vice-president of Equality and Diversity at LMU’s student union, said “international students were a step away from being deported” despite having not broken the law. If the UKBA people are having problems with the university management they should deal with the university management, and not be punishing the international students”.
Snaith fears that other universities would be next. “We know that other universities have been subject to UKBA attention. We know that the UKBA rules make no sense. We don’t believe that the remit of UKBA should in any case extend to international students who are not immigrations – they are not here on a permanent basis. We do not think that UKBA have any interest whatsoever, or should have any interest whatsoever, in academic, education or teaching issues,” he supported.