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Hundreds of Nigerian students face deportation from UK

30 August 2012, 16:27

London - Hundreds of Nigerian students in London face deportation as London Metropolitan University has had their right to admit foreign students revoked.

Many of the international students speak of their deportation worries if not able to find a sponsor within 60 days, elombah.com reports.

“Some people come from poorer backgrounds… parents have sold their homes or land and made huge sacrifices to get them here,’ says London Met student facing deportation.

Lilian Owhor, 20, from Nigeria, is about to start her second year reading forensic science.

She said, “I’m really worried because this is my future.

“I have come in today to get my transcripts, as I will have to see if I can transfer to another university.

“I haven’t been very happy since yesterday. My friends have told me to have hope.

“The university have said they would help us. I contacted them yesterday before the final decision was announced but I haven’t spoken to anyone yet today.

“I haven’t told my parents. I am just hoping I don’t have to go back to Nigeria. My fees are around £11,000 per year. I have already spent a lot of money on my education here.”

Emmanuel Egwu, 24 from Nigeria is the international student officer at the university’s student union and about to begin his third year reading forensic science.

He said, “I have lost my job, not just my place at this university. I came over here in 2009 and I have invested a huge amount in this university.

“My role within the Union means I represent the students affected. More than 2,600 students studying here are about to face two options: they can look for another place in another university or they can leave.

“People have been ringing me all morning from their homes in Nigeria and India asking me what they should do. I have to explain to them that they have to stay calm and they can call whenever they need me.

“They will receive a letter from UKBA who will tell them they have 60 days to find a solution.

“This is devastating, some people come from poorer backgrounds and their parents have sold their homes or land and made huge sacrifices to get them here.

“I’m feeling very bitter. I can’t believe that they can do this to international students. It poses a serious threat to UK higher education.”

Egwu said the students affected were planning to meet with the vice chancellor of the university later
Thursday (today).

“We’ll see what he has to say,” he added.

He said they also hope to plan a peaceful protest.

Syed Rumman, 26, graduated from the university last year. He studied law and is now the vice president of education at the student union and student governor of the university.

He said: “I require a T4 visa to work for the university so I will have to leave my job.

“I’m angry, I’m devastated, I’m speechless but on the other hand this is a wider issue, because this is the first time that T4 sponsorship places have been revoked at a UK university.

“There are lots of questions in my mind.

“But on a practical level, where are all these students going to go? You see on the news that people doing their A-Levels have found it hard to go to the universities they want to go to.

“I just don’t know what is going to happen. It’s in the middle of their studies, some of them will be submitting research projects of the summer, things will be unfinished. It’s a bombshell.”

London Metropolitan University’s HTS status was suspended last month while UKBA examined alleged failings.

A statement posted on the university’s website Wednesday night reads, “The implications of the revocation are hugely significant and far-reaching, and the university has already started to deal with these. It will be working very closely with the UKBA, Higher Education Funding Council for England, the NUS and its own Students’ Union.

“Our absolute priority is to our students, both current and prospective, and the university will meet all its obligations to them.”

The NUS on Wednesday contacted Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May to “express anger at the way decisions have been made in recent weeks and to reiterate the potentially catastrophic effects on higher education as a £12.5 billion per year export industry for the UK.”

NUS president Liam Burns said, “It is disgusting that international students continue to be used as a political football by politicians who seem either incapable of understanding, or are simply uncaring about the impact of their decisions on individuals, universities and the UK economy.

“This decision will create panic and potential heartbreak for students not just at London Met but also all around the country.

“Politicians need to realise that a continued attitude of suspicion towards international students could endanger the continuation of higher education as a successful export industry.

“This heavy-handed decision makes no sense for students, no sense for institutions and no sense for the country. This situation and the botched process by which the decision was arrived at could be avoided if international students were not included in statistics of permanent migrants.”

A UKBA spokesman said, “London Metropolitan University’s licence to sponsor non-EU students has been revoked after it failed to address serious and systemic failings that were identified by the UK Border Agency six months ago.

“We have been working with them since then, but the latest audit revealed problems with 61 per cent of files randomly sampled. Allowing London Metropolitan University to continue to sponsor and teach international students was not an option.

“These are problems with one university, not the whole sector. British universities are among the best in the world – and Britain remains a top class destination for top class international students.

“We are doing everything possible, working with Universities UK, to assist genuine students that have been affected.”

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the move could harm Britain’s reputation as a prime destination for overseas students.


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