Responding to the news that London Metropolitan University has had it's licence to sponsor the visas of international students revoked, meaning that around 2000 current international students at the institution will now receive notification that they have 60 days to find another sponsor or face deportation and being unable to complete their degrees, the National Union of Students (NUS) said the government had treated international students like a political football.
NUS have today contacted David Cameron and Theresa May to express anger at the way that decisions have been made in recent weeks and to reiterate the potentially catastrophic effects on higher education as a £12.5bn per year export industry for the UK.
An NUS survey carried out earlier in 2012 following changes in policy that have made life more difficult for international students found that 40% of international students would not recommend the UK as a destination for study and have in recent weeks have received increasing communications from students who now feel unwelcome in the UK.
Liam Burns, NUS President, said:
"It is disgusting that international students continue to be used as a political football by politicians who seem either incapable of understanding, or are simply uncaring about the impact of their decisions on individuals, universities and the UK economy."
"This decision will create panic and potential heartbreak for students not just at London Met but also all around the country. The needs of students must be at the heart of any process to find new places of study and NUS will be working with UUK and HEFCE to support affected students and ensure as far as possible that they can continue studying in the UK."
"Politicians need to realise that a continued attitude of suspicion towards international students could endanger the continuation of higher education as a successful export industry. This heavy-handed decision makes no sense for students, no sense for institutions and no sense for the country. This situation and the botched process by which the decision was arrived at could be avoided if international students were not included in statistics of permanent migrants."
Notes: Students should contact London Metropolitan University on +44 (0) 20 7133 4141. Further advice can be found at http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/news/article/international/Update-on-London-Met-and-international-students/
NUS (National Union of Students) is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students' unions.
We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education unions in the UK. Through our member students' unions, we represent the interests of more than seven million students.