Hundreds of students studying primarily at private colleges, have been arrested and many deported, whilst some await a similar fate in detention centres as the Home Office unleashes it’s latest attack on international students in the UK.
They are also curtailing the ability of the Universities of West London and Bedfordshire to sponsor international students to come and study in the UK and suspending the tier 4 licence of Glyndwr University in Wrexham along with 57 private colleges across the UK
Given the growing tendency, in the face of austerity, to recruit international students to bolster revenues in our Universities and Colleges, the one thing the UK education sector and Government needs to do to maintain this income stream is to make sure those international students feel welcome. The Home Office took a big stride away from this ideal late last month by the arrests and removals. For many of the colleges suspended, bankruptcy is inevitable. For the universities, this is crisis time.
Glyndwr University has appointed a task force to resolve the situation and regain it’s licence. Bedfordshire and West London universities are also ploughing valuable resources to try to conform to the Home Office’s exacting standards demanded. The longer the ban is on, the more money these Universities will lose.
Some private colleges will close, leaving their current cohort of students high and dry with no qualifications, no refund of fees and no alternative plans of where to study. We have seen this situation before and a Home Office then referred to the students as experiencing ‘collateral damage’.
The reason for the suspensions given by the Home Office is the credibility of some of the English Language certificates accepted by the colleges when admitting students to study. The BBC’s Panorama programme exposed malpractice at Educational Testing Services (ETS) (and the Daily Mail similarly exposed Learn, Pass, Succeed – LPS) in awarding certificates to people who cheated, didn’t sit the test themselves. Whilst details are as yet sketchy, it is apparent that students who hold suspect English Language certificates are being removed regardless of whether or not they were aware of the alleged fraud or their academic performance since gaining a place to study in the UK.
Some students will have unwittingly obtained the certificates. Agents recruiting students for UK colleges and universities will frequently offer a package for potential students to get all their paperwork in order. For this there would be a substantial charge, but why would a student, able to speak and write in English, have reason to disbelieve the agent, apparently helping them gain access to an education in the UK, with the kudos and quality that brings?
We are also hearing of cases of students’ bank accounts being inspected and any evidence of working longer hours than is allowed is being acted upon with devastating effect – arrest, detention and removal.
We are hearing reports of a significant rise in student detentions, in Campsfield IRC and elsewhere, and are trying with other organisations and legal advisors to ensure that advice is readily available for all detained people.
The Government claims there are around 48,000 migrants in the UK who have exploited this scam and 19,000 whose status is ‘questionable’. While that language is somewhat pejorative, we can expect a lot more arrests in the coming months. Every international student should be aware of their rights.
IF YOU ARE AFFECTED BY THIS CLAMPDOWN.
If you have received any correspondence from the Home Office that worries you, please contact JCWI confidentially for advice. Phone 020 7251 7808 or email email@example.com. The National Union of Students, despite not being formally present in many of the colleges affected is offering what support it can. International students would be well-advised to:
- If invited to an interview with the Home Office, take a friend with you, take a fully charged mobile phone and find out a good solicitor to turn to should you be detained.
- Check your documentation, if anything concerns you, consult your students’ union, the NUS or make inquiries at UKCISA.
- If taken to a removal centre or otherwise detained, ask for independent legal advice. Do not take ‘no’ for an answer.
- Make sure you have people supporting you at University or your college – tell people if you have to attend anything with the Home Office.
- If detained, fax any documentation – letters from the Home Office, notices of removal or anything else you have to JCWI on 020 7251 8707 – every removal centre has a fax machine and you have the right to use it free of charge.
For more general information you can contact the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).
Any further data or information, on individual cases or colleges beset by these problems is welcomed by JCWI, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 020 7553 7469.
A number of legal firms have declared they are willing to take student cases in the light of these developments. These firms are on this list by virtue of offerring to be included, the publication of the following firms' details does not constitute a recommendation from JCWI. They are
|Trinity Chambers||Suite 441, 27 Colmore Row,Birmingham B3 2EW||0121 3464672||0121 4345662||Birmingham|
|TRP Solicitors||6 Lee Bank Business Centre, 55 Holloway Head, Birmingham B1 1HP||0121 616 4712||0121 643 0700||Birmingham|
|Cambridge Immigration Legal Centre||Cambridge Office (see Norwich below)||01223 308 745||Cambridge|
|Barnes Harrild & Dyer Solicitors||76 London Road, Croydon CR0 2TB||020 8681 5168||Croydon|
|Thorntons Law LLP||Whitehall House, 33 Yeaman Shore, Dundee DD1 4BJ||01382 229111||01382 202288||Dundee|
|Heath and Power Solicitors LLP||Office 4, 125 A Fitzwilliam St, Huddersfield HD1 5PS||01484 961 595||01484 500 396||Huddersfield|
|Stepstones Visas Ltd||16 Hanover Square, London W1S 1HT||020 3291 2204||020 3291 2205||London|
|JCWI||115 Old Street, London EC1V 9RT||020 7251 8708||020 7251 8707||London|
|Latitude Law||Reb’s Corner, 2-4 Loom Street, Manchester M4 6AE||0161 234 6800||Manchester|
|WTB Solicitors LLP||1st Floor, 601 Stockport Road, Longsight, Manchester, M13 0RX||0161 224 3311||0161 257 3239||Manchester|
|85 Prince of Wales Road, Norwich NR1 1DG||01603 662 077||01603 662 055||Norwich|
Other places you can turn to for support or for help should a friend be detained are