University decision 'could damage UK'
Britain's reputation as home to one of the world's thriving higher education sectors is under threat after a university was stripped of its right to admit foreigners, critics have said.
More than 2,000 students could face ejection from the country after the Government revoked London Metropolitan University's highly-trusted status (HTS) for sponsoring international students.
But critics said the move sent a damaging message to all corners of the globe that the UK deports foreign students.
It came after more than a quarter of a sample of students studying at the university did not even have permission to stay in the country. Professor Eric Thomas, president of Universities UK, said there were other ways to address the UK Border Agency's concerns and the university's licence should only have been revoked as a last resort.
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Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: "No matter how this is dressed up, the damaging message that the UK deports foreign students studying at UK universities will reach all corners of the globe.
"The last thing we can afford to do is send a message that international students are no longer welcome here."
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) claimed the decision could make it harder for the UK to attract the most talented teachers, doctors, scientists and engineers.
Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "This has left thousands of students in limbo and, I am afraid, it may damage the reputation of this country as the best place in the world for overseas students.''
But immigration minister Damian Green said: "Allowing London Met to continue to sponsor and teach international students was not an option.''
Universities minister David Willetts said a task force would be formed to help students affected by the decision.
He said: "It is important genuine students who are affected are offered prompt advice and help."