Social work student faces deportation following London Met visa row

The Social Work Action Network has denounced the government's decision to revoke London Metropolitan University's power to sponsor international students as "unjust"

Details have begun to emerge about the aspiring social workers affected by the government’s decision to suspend London Metropolitan University’s power to sponsor students from outside the European Union.

According to the Social Work Action Network (SWAN), which has members among the lecturing staff at the university, one student on the MSc social work programme may be deported without gaining a qualification. The student in question has almost finished their course.

Meanwhile, a student on the BSc programme has been moved to a course related to safeguarding; not another social work degree, which is the qualification they paid for, said SWAN.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) revoked London Met’s highly-trusted status for sponsoring international students last week after it found more than a quarter of a sample of students studying at the university did not have permission to stay in the UK.

As a result of the decision, up to 2,600 international students have until 1 December to find an alternative sponsor or they will face deportation.

“This decision is unjust for those studying,” said SWAN. “It will have a serious effect on the education and longer term prospects of these students and possibly the families and friends who have supported them to gain such a qualification.

“Social work is an international profession; welcoming the experience of students from across the globe is a necessary part of the efforts to understand and address global social problems such as poverty and inequality.”

London Met has launched legal action to challenge the UKBA’s decision, saying it hopes its students “can return to study as a matter of urgency”.

The university’s vice-chancellor, 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.”

A UKBA spokesperson said a government-led taskforce is being created to work with London Met to support those affected: “We are doing everything possible, working with the taskforce established by BIS [Department for Business, Innovation and Skills], to assist students that have been affected.”

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