LMU crisis: Court reprieve for Indian students

Indian and other non-EU students at the London Metropolitan University heaved a sigh of relief as the high court allowed them to continue their studies.

Updated: Sep 22, 2012, 00:07 AM IST

London: Indian and other non-EU students at the London Metropolitan University heaved a sigh of relief on Friday as the high court allowed them to continue their studies and permitted the university to challenge the recent revocation of its licence to admit non-EU students.

LMU`s application for interim relief was granted by Justice Irwin, who ordered that the non-EU students be allowed to resume their courses from Monday.

There are currently 359 Indian students enrolled on various courses at the university.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) had revoked LMU`s licence to admit and teach non-EU students on August 29, due to what it called "serious and systemic failures".

The revocation had put the academic future over 2,600 current non-EU students in disarray as LMU denied the charges.

As the judicial review progresses through the court, and the existing students continue their courses, the university will still not be able to admit new non-EU students due to the revocation.

LMU vice-chancellor Malcolm Gillies welcomed the court ruling.

A taskforce put in place to find alternative courses in other universities for the affected students had been put in place after the revocation, but it may not continue in view of todays high court ruling.

The ruling means a reprieve for the non-EU students who faced deportation if they were unable to find alternative courses after December.
At the hearing, solicitor Richard Gordon appearing the LMU said there were "two major areas of dispute".

One was whether the UKBA`s decision had been lawful and the other was whether "requirements of fairness" applied, meaning London Met should have been informed prior to the revocation notice and allowed to make representations.

LMU had argued that the UKBA`s decision "was taken pursuant to guidance that was not laid before Parliament and which is referred to nowhere in the immigration rules".

A previous case had established that "provisions of this kind are only lawful if they have been laid before Parliament", Gordon said.

Gordon told the court: "The UKBA can`t say it was an emergency, nor can the UKBA say there was not a requirement of fairness to allow the making of informed representations."

"It is not easy to see how, when the UKBA can`t point to any (current) student who is in breach of immigration control requirements, how, with a decision that affects huge numbers of innocent students, the threat to immigration control has justified so draconian a decision as revocation or indeed suspension," Gordon argued.

Lisa Giovannetti, solicitor for the Home Office, told the court: "Fairness does not require London Met should be formally notified of things spelled out to put things right prior to revocation."

She added that the university had attempted to put things right during discussions with the UKBA that preceded revocation, "but hadn`t been able to".