Friday, 31 August 2012

London Met U in trouble with UKBA

The last time the London Metropolitan University (LMU) was in the news in a big way it was because the vice-chancellor was proposing to establish muslim-friendly no-alcohol no-talk-about-sex zones on campus; blogged about here.

Now they are back in the public for a less salubrious reason. The UK Border Agency has lost confidence in them for the purposes of issuing "Tier 4" visas which are intended for adult students. (The media is generally reporting they have lost the power to issue visas. This is rubbish, only the Home Office can issue visas - what they have lost is their "trusted" status; ie a letter from London Met no-longer carries weight with the UKBA.)

Somewhat surprisingly the UKBA announced that all existing visas sponsored by the LMU were to be cancelled; this on the strength of a quarter of LMU's overseas students being deemed bogus - not attending lectures, not really students. Surprising, because it rather inconveniences the remaining 75% (about 1950 students) part-way through their courses who now have 60 days to find another alma mater or quit the country. With the academic year starting next week this could be a challenge for them. If any are obliged to leave full-time education they would likely have a good case in the High Court for restitution of their course fees to-date; especially given that the government has placed the entire blame on lax procedures at the LMU.

Some suspect that the LMU is actually running an institutional scam as an immigration backdoor - taking the course fees in return for turning a blind eye to whether students are actually attending lectures or instead have got themselves a black-market job. But since the course fees for overseas students start at £15,000 a year that really makes no sense - no illegal immigrant could get a job that would justify such an overhead.

Nope, if there is a scam here, it is not leaving the UK after graduation; not failing to get the degree in the first place. A University of Exeter study estimated that as few as 20% of overseas graduates actually leave the country when their student visa expires.

After bravely firing its big guns at the LMU there are already signs that the government is back-pedaling. The Education Department is setting up a task-force to place affected students in other institutions, and the 60-days-to-get-gone letters have not actually been posted yet. The government may have belatedly realised the problem is real but the target was wrong.

Obviously this blog applauds the use of the big stick on illegal immigrants. However the government's aim must be improved. They need a way of ensuring that 1) students remain on their courses or leave the country, and 2) students leave the country on completion of their course. These are difficult things to achieve.

One way to keep students on their courses would be to require them to pay the full fees (£45,000 minimum) upfront, before entry to the UK. This would be a large burden on the student, but would at least ensure only a high class of foreign student came to the UK.

Perhaps more reasonably some sort of bond should be required. For example £50,000 should be paid into a local embassy or consulate before the visa is issued; then after graduation it can be reclaimed from the same place when the visa expires. Interest should be paid, eg 3% pa so that if the student has to borrow the money it is largely cost neutral for them.

What this country really does need is a database of people who should not be here; basically the palm-prints of all deported persons, plus all persons with expired visas. This blog, like Nationalists generally, is opposed to ID cards (which would solve this kind of problem once and for all) but a database of the disallowed would not affect British citizens and is not controversial. Such a database could be used to vet foreigners entering the UK from Asia and Africa where most illegal immigrants come from. To avoid the "insult factor" citizens of the Anglosphere and Western Europe should not be scanned unless a border official has reason to suspect them.

Also the police could use the database to check arrested persons. This would catch a surprisingly large number of illegal immigrants as they seem to get arrested far more often than the general population.

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