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London Met: new protest against foreign student ban

PUBLISHED: 16:32 14 September 2012 | UPDATED: 16:37 14 September 2012

John-Paul Okeke

John-Paul Okeke

Archant

More than 50 people gathered outside London Metropolitan University this afternoon in the latest protest against the Government’s ban on the college teaching overseas students.

Students, staff and members of various unions gathered in a show of solidarity with the estimated 2,600 attendees who could now face deportation.

Last month the UK Border Agency (UKBA) revoked the university’s ‘Highly Trusted Status’ which it needs to sponsor international students and authorise visas.

They accuse the university of “serious and systematic failings” and claim many of their students have no right to be here.

A lively crowd sang chants like “UKBA – deportation no way” and “Theresa May has got to go”.

John-Paul Okeke, a 30-year-old from Nigeria, who is in the second year of a knowledge management doctorate, gave an impassioned speech demanding “to see the evidence – we want a proper audit”.

Later, whilst brandishing his passport, he said: “I am gutted and so angry. I am asking myself did I waste my time and money. I did my masters in the UK and I came back because I wanted to get an education - I am not a migrant worker.

“Now I have six months to find somewhere else to study, it is impossible. It took me a year to find this place.

“I tell you, no matter the outcome international students will not want to come here now.”

Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North, said: “Well done to the students, teachers and other staff for coming out today. This is a disgusting decision that 2,600 students will be thrown out through no fault of their own.

“London Met is a huge part of the community and the economy and I don’t know if it can survive with 30 per cent of its revenue removed.”

At last night’s meeting of Islington Council’s ruling executive, Cllr Richard Watts, executive member for children, schools and families, said the Government “had gone about solving this problem in the most damaging way to Islington.”

A spokesman for the UKBA said: “The revocation of London Metropolitan University’s sponsor licence was the correct course of action and we will strongly contest any legal challenge.”

He added: “The latest audit revealed problems with 61 per cent of files randomly sampled. Allowing London Met to continue to sponsor and teach international students was not an option.”

He added that they were doing everything possible to assist students.

London Met have mounted a legal challenge to the UKBA’s decision - the first hearing is in the High Court on September 21.

Students affected by the UKBA decision can get advice here: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsfragments/72-LMU-student-page.

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