5,000 Pakistani students in UK face deportation in 60 days
31 August, 2012
LONDON: The future of thousands of Pakistani students studying in British universities and colleges is at stake as they are likely to be deported in 60 days.
More than 5,000 Pakistani students are at risk of losing their "right to remain" if British institutions were stripped of their ability to educate the people from outside the European Union (EU). The British home secretary is considering a crackdown on the UK universities and colleges, which would remove their right to sponsor visas.
London Metropolitan University Vice Chancellor Malcolm Gillies has denied the allegations that the university is a "threat to immigration control" and warned that the decision could harm Britain's reputation abroad. But desperate student are already trying to join rival universities. Many of them have spent thousands of pounds to study in the UK and fear that they would never be able to return once they leave the country. Muhammad Saeed, 22, of London School of Finance and Accountancy has one semester left but will be unable to complete his degree if he loses his visa. He has already cancelled a trip to Pakistan, fearing he will not be allowed to come back.
Wajid Ali, another Pakistani student, said, "I am also on the university's governing body — if I am forced to leave the country, the students would lose their representation. The students are all panicking as this news is causing a lot of stress in them."
Professor Gillies said the decision would leave a £30 million hole in London Metropolitan University's finances, nearly a fifth of its annual budget. It will also cost the wider London economy £75 million, he said. He warned that the future of 30,000-student university is at risk. A number of private higher colleges have already closed following crackdowns on bogus students. He indicated that the university would fight back. "I am not going to say that we accept what is stated in the letter sent to us revoking our licence. We are currently doing a full analysis of the letter and working with best lawyers," he said.
Talking to our sources, National Union of Pakistani Students President Hashim Assad expressed concern over the recent change in rules by the British government. He said that 60-day ultimatum to Pakistani students was not fair. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) should ask the universities to create spaces and accommodate legitimate students on priority basis. Assad, a law student at Queen Mary University of London, said, "The UKBA has given very short time to the students. It is very difficult to arrange all documents to change the college and university. This is injustice to the students who came here rightfully."
Assad demanded the Pakistani government take action against the agents mafia and consultants who were misguiding the students after getting huge amounts in shape of consultation fee. He said that there should be a crackdown against agents and consultants who have got different schemes for innocent students.
The agents get their commissions but do not scrutinise the institutions, which are in limbo. The Pakistan High Commission in London should enhance the programme it runs to address the issues faced by Pakistani students, he added. Talking to our sources, Association of Pakistani Lawyers Chairman Barrister Amjad Malik said, "The enquiries are in hundreds and I am currently dealing with around 10 cases where students suffered on account of college closure."
Colleges losing licences are refusing to pay the students' fees and new colleges reluctant to issue new Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies letter. The student community is stuck in the system, which is already crying over spilt milk, but those who can make choice are leaving for Canada and Australia considering them a better hospitable and ideal destinations for foreign students.
Malik said the changes in law should be fair, proportionate and just. It will be sad state of affairs if South Asians, especially Pakistanis, are systematically restricted. The British government has every right to restrict those undesired element, and regulate those who come for shorter periods so that they return in time, but unwelcoming message will affect economy, tourism, and education industry. You may be unwelcoming to one category, but the implications will be felt across, he added.
Britain's Immigration Minister Damian Green said there had been a "serious systematic failure" at the university. He said it proved to be a "very, very deficient" sponsor because more than a quarter of students sampled were studying there when they did not have permission to stay in the country.