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London Met wins back Tier 4 sponsor licence

London Metropolitan University has won back its right to recruit international students, after its Tier 4 sponsor licence was controversially revoked last August. The Home Office said the university would now hold a probationary sponsor licence. The university welcomed the move but said it still planned to take legal action against the government, claiming its reputation has been damaged.

The Orion Building at London Metropolitan University

The university will now need to "build a track record of compliance with the new students it enrols”

In a statement the Home Offfice said: “A series of inspections carried out by the Home Office in the last six months have demonstrated that the university has made the necessary improvements to its systems and administration.

“The university now meets the requirements needed to sponsor international students from outside the European Economic Area.”

The revocation left 2,000 international students in limbo and prompted an outcry from the HE sector

London Metropolitan lost its licence after the UK Border Agency found that more than a quarter of international students in a sample had breached the terms of their visas, or did not have sufficient English.

The decision left 2,000 international students in limbo, many facing deportation, and prompted an outcry from the HE sector and in foreign media. The university won a 12-month reprieve allowing its non-EEA students to continue their courses, but more than half have since moved to new institutions.

The Home Office said the university would now be subject to a 12 month probationary period “in order to build a track record of compliance with the new students it enrols”. The number of international students it can enrol in this time will be limited, it said.

London Metropolitan’s vice-chancellor Professor Malcolm Gillies said the reinstatement was “excellent news for our students and our university”. However, he said the university would still take legal action against the government, claiming its reputation has been tarnished and that it has sustained damages of up to £20 million.

“We have been working closely with the Home Office to ensure that compliance issues are addressed in a more constructive way”

“London Met has a long history of providing education to international students and we can now continue this long-term commitment to offer them quality education,” he said. “Students can have total confidence that our processes are stronger than ever.”

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, welcomed the news but said lessons needed to be learned.

“Since the decision was taken to revoke the university’s licence to sponsor international students, we have been working closely with the Home Office to ensure that compliance issues are addressed in a more constructive way, to avoid such drastic action,” she said.

“The priority must be to make sure that the student visa route works efficiently and instils public confidence, and that genuine international students are encouraged to come to the UK.”

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