Why Are Thousands Of UK Students Facing Deportation?
Over 2,500 students face deportation from the UK after a controversial government decision to revoke London Metropolitan University’s Highly Trusted Status (HTS) was announced on Wednesday night.
The university’s HTS meant that it could sponsor international students and authorise visas, allowing many people to study in the UK. But an investigation found that more than a quarter of students sampled did not have permission to stay in the country, and a “significant proportion” of students did not have good English, which raised questions as to how they could have been studying at the university as their visas required. These findings have strengthened fears that many international students are actually only in the UK to work — not study.
While the breach of the visa’s conditions is obviously not ideal, the drastic measure of revoking London Met’s HTS has come under fire from many critics for being far too severe a decision. It could mean deportation for up to 2,500 students, many of whom have been legitimately studying and are close to finishing their degrees — but they won’t be able to complete their education in the UK, unless they can find another sponsor within 60 days.
The decision has been criticised for potentially damaging Britain’s esteem as a world-class country for higher education: Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, has said “I am afraid it may damage the reputation of this country as the best place in the world for overseas students”. There is also a worry that the university could lose up to a fifth of its funding, which puts its future in very unsteady territory. However, I believe there are other repercussions to consider — much like the widespread decrying of the welfare state because of the few people who take advantage of it, this decision has a definite air of exaggeration and recklessness about it. Instead of taking immediate action that could leave all international students from London Met facing deportation, why did the government not stop and think about how it would affect those who genuinely wanted to study and have done absolutely nothing wrong?
I believe Maimonedes’ famous quote applies here; “It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death.” By all means, the UK’s government should try to tackle the problem of the misuse of student visas, but to punish everyone for the crimes of the few does not seem like a conscionable way of going about it.
And I’m not the only one who thinks so; Professor Eric Thomas, president of Universities UK, has said “The UKBA’s decision to revoke London Metropolitan University’s licence will cause anxiety and distress to those many legitimate international students currently studying at London Metropolitan, and their families… We believe that there were alternative ways of addressing UKBA’s concerns, and that revocation of a university’s licence should only be a decision of last resort.” Luckily there is a taskforce dedicated to helping those students who want to stay in the UK to continue the education that they had started, but the fact remains that this kind of rectification should not have been necessary had they considered the repercussions to begin with.
What do you think of this decision? Let us know in the comments!