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It was not with any surprise that I woke to hear this news on Radio 4 this morning, as a direct access immigration barrister who has represented a number of Private Colleges and who is being lead by the excellent Hugh Southey QC in the part heard test case on the lawfulness of the discriminatory rules that prevent private college students from working / sponsoring their relatives, I was only surprised that it had taken so long for one of the Universities to have their licence revoked. The BBC news report which can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-19419395 noted the following reasons given by the Immigration Minister Damian Green for the revocation:

  • More than a quarter of the 101 students sampled were studying at the university when they had no leave to remain in this country
  • A “significant proportion” of checked files found “no proper evidence” that the mandatory English levels had been reached
  • Universities must know that students are turning up for their course and are not using a student visa to enter the country for work, but more than half of the records sampled suggested the university “just didn’t know” whether students were turning up for classes or not

What I find is disturbing is that the LMU’s records were in such a poor state. My experience is that private colleges have often had their licenses suspended or revoked for much less. That the LMU could have allowed 25% of its non EU student base (based upon the survey) not to have leave would indicate that they were running a very lax show indeed.

I wonder how many other Universities will also find themselves in the same difficulty? I recall that a fair percentage of Universities who were automatically awarded Highly Trusted Status Sponsor licences subsequently lost them, will they also suffer the same fate?

According to the BBC this news was released on Wednesday night. A check this morning on the UKBA’s website for news had no mention of this case. This might seem surprising given that a large University was found to be posing such a risk to immigration control and had its licence revoked. One might have thought that the UKBA would have been trumpeting this achievement on its website. But no. A check on the news page finds it limited, as per my earlier post, lists that some restaurants in Surrey face fines for employing illegal workers (21 August 2012) and that four people were found working illegally in Helensborough on 20 August 2012. I wonder why?

Paul Turner is a highly regarded Immigration Barrister who is licensed by the Bar Council to undertake Direct Public Access work and is based at 10 King’s Bench Walk, Temple, EC4Y 7EB