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UK: LSBF’s Tier 4 licence to recruit internationally suspended

The London School of Business and Finance has been removed from the register of Tier 4 sponsors that designates which UK institutions can recruit international students, for the second time in 15 months.

LSBF's campus in Tower Hill, London. Photo: Flickr/Mezzenga.

If LSBF is found to have committed a serious breach of compliance requirements, the Home Office could issue both the institution and its umbrella company with a Tier 4 licence ban

LSBF’s removal from the register last Friday means that it cannot recruit new non-EU students and is “tantamount to a temporary suspension”, its spokesperson said.

“Having received and reviewed the data supplied by UKVI, we are confident that LSBF is 100% compliant with its sponsor obligations”

The college has also been removed from the Tier 2 sponsor register, meaning that it cannot sponsor skilled worker visa applications.

It now has 20 days to appeal the decision.

“Having received and reviewed the data supplied by UKVI, which relates to visa refusal and course completion rates and which led them to their decision, we are confident that LSBF is 100% compliant with its sponsor obligations,” the spokesperson said.

“Accordingly, we expect that upon receipt by UKVI from PricewaterhouseCoopers of representations correcting errors in UKVI’s initial assessment,‎ LSBF will be reinstated on the register of sponsors,” they added.

However, if LSBF is found to have committed a serious breach of compliance requirements, the Home Office could sanction both the institution and its umbrella company, Global University Systems, with a Tier 4 licence ban of up to two years.

GUS also operates St Patrick’s College, which lost its licence to recruit international students earlier this year.

LSBF is one of the UK’s largest private education providers and is the third biggest private recipient of public funding.

Students already enrolled at LSBF may continue with their studies, but Home Office guidance “strongly advise[s]” students who have been granted a visa but have yet to come to the UK not to travel if their college is not on the sponsor register.

“We expect that upon receipt by UKVI of representations correcting errors in UKVI’s initial assessment,‎ LSBF will be reinstated on the register of sponsors”

This is the second time LSBF’s Tier 4 licence has been suspended since Immigration Minister James Brokenshire announced a mass suspension of licences at 57 private colleges last year.

During an emergency statement in June 2014, Brokenshire singled out LSBF as an example of a college where students appeared to have flouted work regulations, saying that 290 foreign students enrolled there had worked and paid tax in 2013 despite not being allowed to work part-time during their studies.

However, following a UKVI investigation, the college had its licence reinstated last September.

The Home Office has said in its guidance that it “will not be providing a running commentary” on the suspension.

However, its spokesperson commented: “Businesses and educational institutions that benefit from the immigration system must ensure they have robust recruitment and compliance systems in place or risk losing their privilege to sponsor workers and students.

“We continually monitor all sponsors on the register and we will take action where we find evidence that a sponsor is not fulfilling all of its duties.”

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