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LSBF loses Tier 4 licence; hundreds of student visas curtailed

The London School of Business and Finance has had its Tier 4 licence to recruit non-EU students revoked, leading to hundreds of students being told they must leave the UK by the end of next month.

LSBF's campus in Holborn, London. Photo: Wikicommons/Mezzenga.

“We’re obviously not going to have a public argument about this, it’s not an argument we can win anyway, so we will have to accept that”

LSBF failed to pass the annual assessment all Tier 4 sponsors must undergo in order to retain its licence to recruit international students, a Home Office spokesperson told The PIE News.

“Educational institutions must ensure they have robust compliance systems in place or risk losing their privilege to sponsor students”

“Businesses and educational institutions that benefit from the immigration system must ensure they have robust compliance systems in place or risk losing their privilege to sponsor workers and students,” they added.

Now that its licence has been revoked, LSBF must wait two years before it is permitted to apply to sponsor international students again.

According to LSBF’s CEO and rector, Maurits van Rooijen, the Home Office told the institution its licence, which was suspended in September, was revoked because it was a “fraction of a percentage” above the 10% upper limit on visa refusals an institution is allowed in order to continue operating,

Speaking with The PIE News, van Rooijen confirmed that “a few hundred” students have been affected by the decision.

The majority are on professional qualification courses, with a smaller number – under 100 – on a one-year postgraduate programme or in the final year of an undergraduate degree programme, and four students on the second year of their degree.

Curtailment letters issued by the Home Office inform students that “there is no evidence that you have made a fresh application for entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain in the United Kingdom in any capacity”, the BBC reported.

“It is not considered that the circumstances in your case are such that discretion should be exercised in your favour,” it continues.

“The secretary of state has therefore decided to curtail your leave to enter or remain.”

Van Roojien said that LSBF will try to ensure that as many students as possible are able to complete their studies before leaving the country.

“What we have agreed to do is to intensify and accelerate the teaching programme, so that they can complete their degree programmes,” he said.

Students will then be able to sit exams and complete their dissertations in their home country, he added.

In addition, students enrolled on accountancy programmes (which make up the majority of those affected) will be able to continue their studies either at another institution operated by Global University Systems, which owns LSBF, or through online delivery.

“This is about the impact it has on individual students; financially, this is absolutely tiny compared with the total size of the group”

The licence suspension in September that led to the revocation was LSBF’s second in 15 months. At the time, a spokesperson told The PIE News that management were “confident that LSBF is 100% compliant with its sponsor obligations” and that the institution would be reinstated on the register of sponsors.

Van Roojien explained that LSBF was “surprised” by the suspension, and that its own independent auditor’s review had contradicted the Home Office’s findings that LSBF had breached the visa refusal threshold.

However, he added: “We’re obviously not going to have a public argument about this, it’s not an argument we can win anyway, so we will have to accept that.”

Describing the revocation as “annoying and sad”, van Roojien nevertheless said that it will not have a major impact on LSBF’s finances.

“This is about the impact it has on individual students and the nuisance it is for students to be caught up in this; financially, this is absolutely tiny compared with the total size of the group,” he said.

He stressed that LSBF is already moving towards dropping the degree programmes that the affected students are studying on, due to organisational restructuring begun by GUS last year.

LSBF’s losing of its Tier 4 sponsor licence does not have a direct impact on any other licensed sponsors owned by GUS. However, Home Office guidance notes that: “when considering any institution’s suitability to hold a licence, UKVI will consider whether any key personnel and individuals involved in the day-to-day running have complied with the Immigration Rules and sponsor guidance in the past.”

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