Friday August 31, 2012
Students in Britain face ouster
By PRIYA KULASAGARAN
PETALING JAYA: Six Malaysian students in Britain face possible deportation after their tertiary institution had its visa licence revoked.
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) on Wednesday withdrew the London Metropolitan University's (LMU) licence to sponsor visas for international students from outside the European Union.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the decision would affect all non-EU students enrolled at the university.
“The authorities there found that the university had misused its power to recruit international students, so its licence was withdrawn.
“We have asked Education Malaysia London to get more details from the university,” he told The Star.
Under Britain's visa rules, all non-EU students at LMU will have 60 days to either gain entry at other institutions or get out of the country.
LMU vice-chancellor Prof Malcolm Gillies, in a statement posted on the university's website, said they would be working with the UKBA, the National Union of Students and its own students' union to resolve the matter.
“The university has set up a help centre to support and advise students,” he said.
The Sunday Times reported that an audit by the UKBA found that some students studying at LMU were without valid visas.
The audit also found that the university failed to report non-attendance of international students as well as adequately assess students' academic ability and English proficiency.
Prof Gillies said the UKBA had initially suspended the university's visa licence on July 16 over fears that “a small minority” of overseas students did not have accurate immigration documention.
“For the last six weeks we have repeatedly tried to liaise with the UKBA to further understand their concerns, which seem to be focused on processes related to the legacy of the previous management.
“Disappointingly, the UKBA has been unwilling to communicate with the university, despite the growing £10mil-plus (RM49.54mil-plus) hole their action has already left on our balance sheet,” Prof Gillies claimed.
United Kingdom and Eire Council of Malaysian Students chairman Ahamd Syawal Hafriz Abdullah said the decision was unfair to international students “who have put faith in the institution.”
“It leaves the current and incoming students unsettled and it may also create panic and potential heartbreak for international students throughout the country.
“Hopefully this issue will be resolved immediately since the new academic term is starting soon,” he said.
Britain's Universities Minister David Willetts said a task force had been set up to help genuine students affected by the decision, adding that it would start work immediately.