International students have been told by a High Court judge they can temporarily continue their studies at London Metropolitan University.
The announcement came as the higher education institution in North London was granted permission to pursue a judicial review into the UK Border Agency's (UKBA) decision. In August, London Met Uni's licence to recruit overseas students was revoked, meaning more than 2,600 overseas students faced being sent home.
In another victory for the international students, the National Union of Students (NUS) was given the go ahead to launch an independent intervention on behalf of those studying at London Met Uni.
"The judge is very much on the side of the students," a source who was at the hearing told The Huffington Post UK. "He has made it clear the students should be made part of the decision."
Liam Burns, president of the NUS, said: "The court has signalled its intention to protect legitimate students at London Met and all parties are now working together to achieve that goal."
Around 40 students gathered outside 10 Downing Street on 30 August to hold a silent protest to signify having no voice
Mr Justice Irwin granted interim relief to the students who are already enrolled and those who are due to start this September to allow them to continue their studies at the university, pending resolution of the case.
In his ruling, he said: "It seems to me that the balance of convenience in this case does not favour a restoration which may well be temporary as that will involve new populations of students being brought into the university and engaging in courses of study which may not then be able to be completed."
A final decision on whether the students will be able to finish their course will be made at 4pm on Friday.
Salima Mawji, director at Match Solicitors, a legal service specialising in education law, told The Huffington Post UK students may be able to pursue their own legal challenges, due to the way they had been treated.
"It is only right and proper that the court deals with this application swiftly and makes a decision based on legal argument as the impact on international students is immense.
"The real victims in the current scenario are students who have spent thousands of pounds seeking a British education, only to be told that the institution that they placed their trust and reliance on, has let them down."
She added: "Students know that the decision of the court will either make their degree or break it. Either way, it is clear that the disruption and uncertainty will also count for something for students and legal challenges may still be available as a result of the distress this situation has caused."
The news has provoked mixed reactions, with Sylvia Milne tweeting HuffPost:
And Luke Cooper tweeting:
While others saying there was "much still to do" and "everything is still in limbo".
London Metropolitan University's highly trusted sponsor (HTS) status was first suspended in July while the UK Border Agency (UKBA) examined alleged failings.
Of 101 sample cases, 26 London Met University students were studying between last December and May even though they had no leave to remain in the UK, UKBA figures showed.
A lack of required monitoring meant there was no proof the overseas students were turning up to lectures in 142 of 250 (57%) sampled records. The figures prompted immigration minister Damian Green to say a "significant proportion" did not have a good standard of English and do not turn up to lectures.
Of the 50 files checked since May for evidence of mandatory English language testing and academic qualifications, 20 showed poor assessment, where documents were either not verified or not held.
The news London Met University would have its visa licence permanently revoked was announced in August, leaving more than 2,000 students facing being sent back to their home country.
Students were originally told they had three months to find an alternative course, leaving many in a state of panic over their unknown future. Tunde, a 28-year-old Nigerian, told The Huffington Post UK: "I have to go back to my country with nothing to show for this."
UKBA's ban creates an "appalling image" of Britain, critics say, with Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn claiming the withdrawal of the university's HTS status would deter foreigners from studying in the UK.
Professor Malcolm Gillies, the university's vice chancellor, has described UKBA's claims as "not particularly cogent".
"I would go so far as to say that UKBA has been rewriting its own guidelines on this issue and this is something which should cause concern to all universities in the UK," he said.
Liam Burns, president of the NUS, said:
"We are concerned that the needs and interests of students are represented in this case, and our independent intervention will look to ensure that voice is heard in the legal proceedings.
"The students at London Met who have been affected by this decision came to London in good faith and have already spent tens of thousands of pounds on their education. It is crucial that their situation is fully considered."
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