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London Met could halt revocation of HTS licence

London Metropolitan University could get a temporary injunction against the revocation of its highly trusted sponsor status as it pursues legal action against the UK government, a legal expert claimed today. The university announced it would take action yesterday, after it was stripped of its Highly Trusted Sponsor licence last week for failing to address concerns raised in a UKBA audit in March.

London Met could potentially overturn the government's revocation of its HTS through a judicial reviewLondon Met could potentially overturn the government's revocation of its HTS through a judicial review

“All institutions will be watching with interest further developments on this matter”

2,600 continuing non-EU students now have until December 1 to find an alternative university to sponsor them or face deportation.

David O’Hara, principal associate for education immigration at law firm Eversheds, said there was no right of appeal against a decision to revoke an HTS licence, so the university would have to seek a judicial review—which could see its ban on recruiting outside the EU lifted until the case was decided.

“Given the urgency of the matter, the university is likely to ask for a very quick initial hearing to consider an application that there are sufficient grounds for the High Court to grant a stay, or injunction, preventing revocation of the licence until a full hearing has taken place many months later,” he said.

“All institutions will be watching with interest further developments on this matter.”

London Met said it challenged the decision “in the strongest possible terms”

London Met launched its case after immigration minister, Damian Green, defended the revocation last week, saying there had been “systemic failures” in the way the university monitored non-EU students.

UKBA found a quarter of students in a random sample did not have legal right to be in the UK during its audit.

In a statement last night, London Met said it had reviewed UKBA’s evidence and challenged the decision “in the strongest possible terms”.

It claims that “file-after-file” it took all reasonable measures to correct issues raised by the UKBA audit. It also says that UKBA failed to heed important evidence from the university, or to give clear and consistent information, changing its requirements “substantially at least 14 times” in three years.

“It is not in anyone’s interests for there to be a system in place which constantly changes and which forces universities, their management and their staff automatically to treat students with suspicion until proven otherwise,” said the university.

UKBA changed its requirements “substantially at least 14 times in the last three years”

The government has faced considerable flak over the decision, with London Met students holding a high profile protest outside Downing Street last week. However, the government has launched its promised a taskforce to find alternative places for the affected students with various universities expressing interest.

O’Hara said that London Met could potentially overturn the revocation under a judicial review – a process in which courts examine the legality and fairness of decisions made by public bodies.

“A decision can be challenged on a number of grounds including that it was irrational…that the decision maker (UKBA in this case) took into account irrelevant matters or failed to consider relevant matters; or that an unfair procedure was followed in reaching the decision,” O’Hara said.

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