London: Indian students caught up in the crisis at the London Metropolitan University (LMU) will soon be able to find alternative courses at other varsities through a clearing system, official sources on Thursday said.
Business Secretary David Willetts told the House of Commons that the mini clearing system set up by a task force will begin functioning from September 17. The next academic year is scheduled to begin shortly.
Willetts` announcement came as lawyers hired by LMU prepared to apply for a judicial review in the high court of UK Border Agency`s decision to revoke the university`s licence to admit and teach Indian and other non-EU students.
Willetts said the decision to revoke the licence was a matter for the UKBA, and added: "Our priority now is to ensure that the university`s legitimate overseas students are given the help and advice they need to continue their studies.
"To deliver this I set up a taskforce within hours of UKBA`s decision which has already started work."
The crisis at LMU figured in the Prime Minister`s Question Time yesterday.
During questions on Business issues today, Labour MP Heidi Alexander said that the direct experience of one of her constituents was that the taskforce "is anything but useful".
She added: "She went as far as saying that it told her nothing that couldn`t be found on the UKBA website. What steps is the minister going to take to ensure that the help and advice that is given from that taskforce really enables legitimate students to access alternative courses?"
Willetts replied: "The crucial task which the university is engaged in now is preparing a kind of mini clearing system in which there will be firm information about places available at specific universities in specific courses that would be available for suitably-qualified overseas students at London Met."
He added: "I can tell her and the House today that that matching process will be open and starting on the 17th September and we also, of course, know that the UKBA will not be sending out any letters to the overseas students affected about their 60-day limit applying until October 1."