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London Met students covered for relocation costs

A £2million hardship will be used to cover relocation costs for London Metropolitan University students displaced by the UK university’s loss of highly trusted sponsor status, it was revealed this week.

“We hope that it will also help to restore the confidence of international students in the UK"

It follows a high court decision last Friday to allow all non-EU students at the university to remain in the UK to finish their studies while London Met takes legal action against the government over the revocation.

The fund, which was promised by government earlier this month, will cover additional tuition fees in exceptional cases; basic visa costs for transferring students; and one-off accommodation costs (for example, deposits for accommodation that cannot be refunded).

“The fund will cover additional tuition fees and costs for visa, accommodation and travel”

Students choosing to stay in their existing accommodation will also be reimbursed for any net increase in their travel costs for the academic year 2012-13.

Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) which will oversee the fund, said: “We hope that it will also help to restore the confidence of international students, their families and communities in the UK as a place that welcomes international students.”

After the university lost its right to recruit non-EU students on August 30, some 2,600 non-EU students were told to find alternative student places or risk deportation – a decision widely condemned as unfair.

Friday’s ruling, while not reinstating HTS, allows anyone enrolled at the university, or with an offer of a place, to complete the 2012-13 academic year subject to having the correct immigration status. However, many students have already begun looking for new courses.

Students welcomed the reprieve although some said the saga would still damage the UK. Ashiqur Rahman told the Evening Standard: “I had offers to study in Australia and Canada but I chose the UK because my dad always said a British degree has the most value in the world. But I have mixed feelings about it now.”

“My cousins are planning to come to the UK but I would advise them to go to Australia or America because there are more opportunities. I was going to do a masters here but I am a bit scared that if I do it in this country it could happen again.”

Doubts also remain over the future of some students; 500 have more than a year left to complete their studies and what happens to them after that is is uncertain. HEFCE said students would be given clear advice and guidance on their options.

It also said its “clearing house” could be run again in May/June 2013

It also said its “clearing house”, set up earlier this month to allow students to transfer to other institutions, could be run again in May/June 2013 if necessary. It is currently due to close on October 12th.

The fund and clearing house are part of a major damage control exercise by the government after the outcry that followed the revocation. This included protests by London Met students outside Downing Street and the Home Office.

Universities Minister David Willetts announced a joint publicity drive with Universities UK in newspapers in key student markets to explain overseas students were still welcome in Britain. He also promised to desegregate net migration data, viewing students separately for the purposes of a “more informed debate”, although he stopped short of removing them.

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