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Erik's View: Migration, Alcohol & Feminism

Erik Redli is a university graduate from Slovakia who is currently living in London. Each week he gives his view on the events of the last seven days. This week, he looks at migration policy, binge drinking and feminism.

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London Met’s International Students Allowed to Study…For Now

Friday saw the latest twist in the saga surrounding London Metropolitan University's international students, as the High Court ruled that its students with full immigration status can continue their studies at the institution.

Less than a month ago, the UK Border Agency stripped the university of its right to act as a visa sponsor for non-EU students. This not only meant that London Met could no longer recruit new international students, but also that the existing students (around 2,000 of them) due to return to their studies this week had to find a different institution.

However, after the university strongly denied any wrongdoing and outcry from prominent figures in British higher education, the High Court has given permission to London Met to challenge the decision. It also ruled that whilst the process of appeal was taking place, new and existing international students who had already been granted visas could begin the new academic year at the university.

The Interests of the Students

At the hearing, London Met's lawyer Richard Gordon argued that it "came down to fairness" and that the UKBA's decision was unlawful. Whilst not totally convinced by this, the judge did rule that the university could make a legal challenge through a judicial review.

A statement from UKBA followed, explaining:

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Visa Changes Hit 450 UK Colleges

More than 450 colleges in the UK have been banned from teaching foreign students, as part of new visa restrictions introduced by the government. As part of a plan to reduce immigration to the UK, there has been a crack down on bogus colleges set up simply as a way to for fake students to get visas.

For years there have been hundreds of colleges offering internationals an easy way into the UK through fake courses that allowed them to claim student visas. However, earlier this year the government announced that this abuse of the immigration system was to be put under scrutiny.

Licences Revoked

Of the 450 colleges affected so far, almost 400 of them failed to register with the new inspection system and so lost the privilege of recruiting international students. The rest either had their licences revoked or suspended due to a variety of misdemeanours. Common problems were colleges that were unable to show records of student attendance, or that they had checked the students' qualifications. However, one college could not even provide a list of enrolled students or a timetable of classes.

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Visa Scam Exposed at London College

A college in London has been caught out helping international students to cheat their way to degree qualifications in order to gain a UK visa. After being exposed by a BBC television programme, Rayat London College is now being investigated by the UK Border Agency.

Earlier this year, BBC investigators pretended to be students enrolling at the college, but were secretly filming with hidden cameras. The results were shocking. The college has been selling overseas students a false diploma which can then be used to enrol on MBA courses. The diplomas mean the students are exempt from much of the work, allowing them to complete express MBA courses in as little as a week.

Fast, Fake Degrees

On top of this, the diplomas allow the students to apply for Post Study Work visas, which allow internationals two years in the UK after they finish a degree. These PSW visas are being phased out in April next year, which is leading some students into the temptation fast, fake degrees.

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New Visa Regulations Announced

The British Home Secretary Theresa May announced today that the number of non-EU students granted a visa to the UK is going to be cut by up to 80,000 a year.

The announcement is part of the government’s drive to scale down immigration to the UK to just tens of thousands by 2015, and is likely to reduce foreign student visas by as much as 25%. Of the proposal, May told MPs:

“It will protect our world-class institutions. It will stop the abuse that became all too common under Labour and it will restore some sanity to our student visa system."

“Fake Colleges”

However, away from these headline grabbing statistics, what do these new regulations actually mean to your standard student hoping to study in the UK?

Well, the proposals are basically aimed at stopping people from manipulating the system in order to simply get a UK visa. At the moment the government say there are thousands of non-EU inhabitants every year who get student visas with no intention of actually studying in the UK.

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