UEL opens doors to London Met students

The University of East London has set up a hotline for London Metropolitan University students, in a bid to attract those facing deportation in the wake of the visa scandal.

About 2,600 non-EU students at London Met could be forced to leave the UK if they cannot find a new sponsor within 60 days after the UK Border Agency revoked the university’s licence to sponsor student visas.

The decision follows a report by the UKBA which said London Met had “failed to address serious and systemic failings” identified six months ago.

A taskforce has been set up to help enrol London Met’s overseas students at other universities. It is due to meet for the first time on 31 August and includes Universities UK, the UKBA, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the National Union of Students.

But already UEL, which is located in Stratford and Docklands, just a few miles from London Met, has set up a hotline for students looking to transfer.

Catherine Downes, director of corporate marketing at UEL, said: “We had over 100 calls from both international and home students yesterday.

“We have now set up a dedicated hotline with specialist advisers able to help students.

“We are quite convenient [for London Met students ] in terms of our location and there is also a good match portfolio-wise.”

UEL is also holding a drop-in advice evening directed at London Met students at its Stratford campus on 5 September between 4-7pm.

Dominic Shellard, vice-chancellor of De Montfort University, said he was happy to see if London Met students could be accommodated at his institution.

However, he believe the financial benefits for institutions taking on displaced students would be marginal as London Met tended to charge lower tuition fees, while the costs of transferring a student mid-course could be significant.

“Our offer to help is not about financial gain,” he said.

“That is why a consortium approach through the taskforce is important. It would scotch the notion that some universities are trying to cream off students.

“I think universities would need to be invited by London Met to offer places.

“We are only an hour away by train, but it would be a huge effort for students to relocate. I think most will want to remain in London.”

Professor Shellard believed the swift reallocation of students would ultimately benefit universities by limiting negative publicity across the world caused by the Home Office decision.

“I could see from the TV this has caused huge anxiety to bona-fide, legitimate students left totally bereft,” he said.

“We need real leadership and concerted action on this issue.

“I think the biggest challenge is how to limit the damage caused to the reputation of the sector overseas.”

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

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