05/09/2012 15:59 BST

David Cameron Backs UKBA's Decision Over London Met Uni Visa Licence Withdrawal

The Prime Minister has backed UKBA's decision to strip London Metropolitan University of its right to sponsor international student visas, despite the move potentially forcing the deportation of hundreds of legitimate students.

David Cameron was warned the action could damage Britain's reputation as a good place for people to come and study by Labour's Stephen Timms.

But Cameron defended last week's actions, claiming there was evidence of clear violations of immigration rules.

Speaking at the first Prime Minister's Questions of the new session, Cameron said: "Having looked at this case, and looked at the action the Border Agency has taken, it does seem to me there was some real abuses going on.

"What I want to see is Britain open to students and let's be clear: anyone who can speak English and who has a university place is able to come here and study and use our universities.

"But, quite rightly, the immigration minister has been very hard in terms of closing down bogus colleges and making sure good universities like this one, if they are not meeting the rules, they have to take action.

"That must be right if we are going to control immigration."

Timms, MP for East Ham, had asked: "Hundreds of young people from outside Europe chose London Metropolitan University confident in British higher education.

"You need to tackle visa fraud but will you lift the threat to deport students who have paid their fees and complied fully with all the rules?

"Why are you so damaging the standing of British universities around the world?"

London Met has launched legal action in a bid to overturn the Government's decision to revoke its highly-trusted status, which means it can sponsor student visas for people coming to Britain from outside the European Union.

Damian Green, the then immigration minister, defended the decision last week on the basis checks had revealed a "significant proportion" did not have good English and there was no proof half the students were attending lectures.

Hundreds of legitimate students are searching for new university sponsors before their existing permissions to study in the UK expire.

Earlier this week, the Public Accounts Committee condemned the UK Border Agency for passing responsibility to student visas to universities before implementing proper controls.

The committee of MPs said the number of migrants who took advantage of the gap in the system could have been as high as 50,000.


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