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Foreign students fear removal from UK

Students search for new degree places after Home Office strips university of ability to sponsor foreign learners

  • Guardian News & Media Ltd
  • Published: 17:50 August 31, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AFP
  • Foreign students are pictured outside a campus of the Metropolitan University in London. Thousands of overseas students faced deportation from Britain after the government stripped a London university of its right to sponsor their visas.
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London: Walk through the campus of London Metropolitan University and the sense of loss is palpable. Every international student looks crushed after the north London university became the first in the UK to be stripped by the Home Office of its ability to sponsor foreign learners.

What these students fear most is that if they don’t, by some miracle, get themselves a place at a new university within the next few months, they will be removed from the country.

Cecil Ezeja, 21, from Enugu state in Nigeria was the great hope for his family. Now he dreads the moment when he has to tell his family that his year of studying electronic communications and the £10,080 they paid has come to naught. “I can’t call them, I don’t want to cause any heartbreak I want to visit some other unis [first] to see if they can accept me.”

But he knows, like many others, that the timing, just before the start of the academic year, means it is unlikely that another university will have a spare place especially since he is midway through his degree. “If it was in June or July I would have more time to apply for [different] uni I’m very upset,” he said. “The decision was made at the wrong time. I’m not an [immigration] threat. I came to this country on 3 September 2011 and I’ve not broken any tiny law.

“I’m just a student. I come to school in the morning, I go back to my house, I go to the library. I haven’t done anything Maybe there’s a few people that are breaking the law but they should investigate [them] not sack all the students, punish everybody.”

For Mohammad Islam, 23, from Bangladesh, it is the second time he has enrolled for a law degree and found himself at an institution suddenly stripped of its ability to host foreign students. “I came here in 2009, to a college. When I was back home, I don’t know which place was a college, because on the website they’re all saying they’re really good, everything is OK. But when you are not [there] in person, you can not understand what is going on.

“So I came to a college and they had the same problem, they [the Home Office] cancelled their licence. I was in deep water.”

Now he’s in deep water again. “I have to find a new uni and if I can’t I have to go back.”

He has not told his parents but hopes they are prepared to stump up another £10,000 to pay for his degree.

“I have a dream,” he said. “To finish my LLB from a good university from the UK. This is my main dream.”

Inside the university help centre, the phones are ringing off the hook. Ursula Rehman, from Dubai, looks desperate.

She has just one semester to go to complete her degree in biomedical sciences and is not having any luck moving to another university.

“I’ve spoken to so many universities now and they say, ‘oh we don’t do transfers, we don’t do this, or we’ll have to charge you this much’.” She’s exasperated. Everyone, she says, is worried and scared.

“I’ve got so many friends who come from really poor backgrounds. And they come here so that they have a degree and they go back and get a really good job, because they’ve got a degree from London UK. And now.”

Tellingly, she has not told her parents either. “I don’t want them to panic, and I hope they don’t hear it from somewhere.”

She blames herself for the whole debacle. Rehman says she should have accepted one of the other four university places she was offered three years ago.

“I know it’s my fault, but I’m really getting tense now.” Staring down at the floor she adds, “why did I come here?”. It is a very good question.

Comments (4)

  1. Added 13:32 September 1, 2012

    The U.K. government sure has the duty and right to make sure that student visas are not misused to bye-pass immigration requirements. But that could have been done in a humane manner ensuring that current bona-fide students, who are actually victims of the system, are provided the opportunity to complete their course and return home. Those university men who are responsible for the situation should be severely dealt with. As far as the authorities of the home countries of the victims are concerned, they should make sure that those agents who colluded to dupe the students are suitably punished.

    Joseph Kainikkara, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 12:53 September 1, 2012

    Need more information on reason behind UK government decision. Impact of this on future students.

    PHILIP GEORGE, SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 12:42 September 1, 2012

    Pity is the only remorse I have for students pursuing a higher education degree. With foreign students flocking to international higher education venues in hope for a secure future, they forget the underlying economic climate around the globe. Yesterday's economic indicator displayed the misery Europe is going through, with unemployment touching 25%. 50% of undergraduates and graduates are unemployed. The mounting pressure from the social environment back home on international students of gaining a higher education degree from abroad is the premise of their dilemma. A dilemma that has been for over two decades perceived as an Insurance Policy against all economic odds. But times are now at the precipice of great changes. Economies all around the globe have been sluggish for over 4 years now and there yet seems to be no light at the end of the road. All I can advise to students who plan to pin their hopes on this orchestrated delusion is to at least go for a Graduate Degree abroad prior to finishing your 4 year Undergraduate Degree at home. The best you can do with your money that you have saved up to pursue a Degree abroad is to invest in the future. What I mean by future is anticipate where the markets are moving. Hedge against the odds. Invest in commodities and agriculture.

    Imran Aziz, Edison, New Jersey, United States

  4. Added 12:36 September 1, 2012

    I feel that UK is the most tolerant place in the world till now for people from different ethnicities, exercising their religious beliefs and other social activities. I have always appreciated UK for that reason. Here I pray & request that the concerned university take back their decision which will leave so many students with ambition in despair. They should at least let them finish their complete terms and think about eliminating the sponsorship later (Ideally No).

    fans g, dubai, United Arab Emirates

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