London Metropolitan University To Take Legal Action Against UKBA

London Metropolitan University is to begin urgent legal action against UKBA's decision to revoke its licence to sponsor international students.

The institution said it was making the move so that its students can return to study "as a matter of urgency".

The government revoked London Met's highly trusted status for sponsoring international students last week after it found more than a quarter of a sample of its students did not have permission to stay in the country.

On Monday, the university issued a statement which said: "London Metropolitan University has tonight instructed its lawyers Penningtons Solicitors LLP to commence urgent legal action to challenge the revocation of its highly trusted status for sponsoring international students, so that its students can return to study as a matter of urgency.

"Following the leak of the UK Border agency's decision eight days ago which 'announced' the revocation, the university has now had the opportunity to read the report."

In the statement, the university promised to "defend its reputation".

The move to revoke London Met of its licence could result up to a £30m annual loss to the institution, it said.

"Working with its advisers, the university has conducted a thorough review of UKBA's 'evidence', and in the strongest possible terms challenges the outcome," London Met added.

The institution said it will announce more details of the legal action later this week.

But it said that there was "no evidence of systemic failings" at the university, and that the evidence it had given to UKBA shows that it was taking every reasonable measure to be compliant with their rules.

London Met also said it had been conducting checks on its international students, specifically in relation to English language and their educational ability and to check that they are legally entitled to do study at the institution.

The university accused UKBA officers of " ignoring information that was made available to them when they conducted their audit".

The statement adds: "UKBA's requirements have changed substantially at least 14 times in the last three years.

"We believe the university's approach to complying with this multitude of changes is of a standard that not only equates with practices adopted by the majority of other universities in the sector but in a number of key areas exceeds sector-wide practice."

It says: "The UK has a long-standing reputation of educational excellence and for attracting genuine students from a diverse international market. It is not in anyone's interests for there to be a system in place which constantly changes and which forces universities, their management and their staff automatically to treat students with suspicion until proven otherwise.

"London Met is concerned that the current immigration policy is creating confusion across universities in the country and irrevocable damage to the UK's globally-recognised education sector.

"London Met appreciates that as the first UK University to be placed in this position it has a duty to the sector to try and bring an end to the damage arising from UKBA's decision.

"London Met's community will defend its reputation and along with the wider Higher Education community, the reputation of the sector at large."

The university's vice-chancellor Professor Malcolm Gillies, said: "London Met will fight this revocation, which is based on a highly flawed report by the UKBA.

"The University will continue to give top priority to the interests of our international students who have been so distressed by this precipitate action."