Damian Green was answering an urgent question at the House of Commons (BBC)
Damian Green was answering an urgent question at the House of Commons (BBC)

Immigration minister Damian Green has explained his decision to strip London Metropolitan University of its Highly Trusted Status (HTS), which has left more than 2,000 foreign students facing deportation.

Green said there were "systemic failures" at the university relating to students studying without permission, the recruitment of international students and the monitoring of student attendance, and these failures necessitated the removal of London Met's HTS - which means the university is no longer entitled to sponsor international students.

Green also added that a task force has been set up to help "genuine, appropriately qualified" international students find another institution to complete their studies.

The minister said any affected students would be notified of their situation on 1 October, giving them 60 days to find another university or leave Britain.

Green was responding to an urgent question from Labour's Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons following Westminster's summer recess.

Green told MPs: "Institutions must comply with the rules, whether they sponsor 10, 100, or 1,000 international students.

"This includes having a system to check that students have the right visas to study in the UK, and monitoring the attendance of students.

"Universities must ensure that students can speak English and have the right qualifications to study at degree level. UKBA (UK Border Agency) found systemic failures which meant that London Met has not been able to ensure the appropriate admission and tracking of students from abroad.

"The taskforce is working with London Metropolitan University to help genuine, appropriately qualified students to find another education provider to sponsor them.

"Three UKBA staff are currently based in a Help Centre set up by London Met to support and advise students.

"But let's be clear, these particular problems have been identified at one university, not the whole sector. This government recognises the important contribution that international students make to the UK's economy, and to making British Universities among the best in the world."


Corbyn claimed the withdrawal of London Met's HTS would deter foreigners from studying in the UK.

He said: "The image around the world is one that is really quite appalling because it suggests that overseas students may well be deported from this country because of a decision made by UKBA for which there is no detail given as to the basis of that decision."

Labour's former education secretary David Blunkett also said the decision to revoke London Met's HTS, which was made last week, sends out a message that the UK is "not welcoming" to foreign students.

In response to the HTS revocation, London Met said its "absolute priority" was to help any students affected by this decision and described the implications of the revocation as "hugely significant and far-reaching".