The Home Office has revoked the Tier 4 License of London Metropolitan University and branded it 'a threat to immigration control', Sunday Times reports.
Here is an university always in the news. It got its entire board of governors sacked only a couple of years back. However, it was popular and highly visible. It was fined in successive years for over-recruitment. It was criticised for not changing, and then for trying to change too much, as a new Vice Chancellor and his team tried to turn the university around. No wonder some of the commentators are now labelling it a 'controversial' university.
Thus far, it is simple: A faltering university fell foul of the regulators. Going by the report, it allowed students whose visas expired to attend classes. It did not report students who got visa and failed to show up to enrol. It did not properly assess the students' English. So on and so forth, a list of all-too predictable sins have already been laid out.
Clearly, the university got it wrong. These are serious omissions in the day and age of a punitive immigration regime. Beyond procedural concerns, there is always a legitimate concern that such negligence can quickly turn into a national security issue.
These issues have already been highlighted in the media and would be discussed (hopefully, unless the very British 'never embarrass' rule intervenes) in the coming days. The university has to look closely into the management of students, and have to tighten some parts of its administration. But, there are other, less obvious issues arising from this saga, which I intend to highlight here.
First, London Metropolitan University is unusually well-known outside Britain's borders. Its reputation exceeds its ranking, I suspect, primarily because of its name. An average student abroad, and this day and age, average student is the one who is fuelling the global growth of student mobility, would know about London Metropolitan but may consider University of Surrey, a highly respected research university, an unknown quantity. The point is that the suspension of London Metropolitan may have far reaching impact on its peers, as far as the perception of overseas students are concerned.
Which brings us to the next point, which is that it is important how this process is actually carried out. Initial media reports suggested that since the license is revoked, the 2800 overseas students at the university will have to find a new institution or have to leave the country within 60 days. One would hope that this is not correct, because this will have enormous negative impact and shake the students' confidence in the UK universities altogether. Here are a set of students who enrolled in a well-known public university, paid their fees and attended their classes: Throwing them out of the university into an uncertain future for no fault of their own is not just unfair, it will be an indictment of the whole UK Higher Education system and its regulators.
Third, I did predict, in an earlier post, that once UKBA catches up with an university, it will find it difficult to untangle itself, because the UKBA requirements are impractical in the first place. Most UK universities will fall foul of one or more of the provisions, and it is impossible to follow all its provisions without changing the established practices in the universities (which is near impossible, as the universities mostly follow the tongue-in-cheek rule set by Cambridge classicist F M Cornford, 'Nothing should ever be done for the first time') or increasing the cost significantly. It is impossible to see how the universities will, for example, increase the teaching hours to 15 hours a week, which is required by UKBA for international students, from its current 6 to 9 hours, without changing the lifestyles of local undergraduate students and tutors. The assessment of a student's English language ability will remain problematic, as will the implementation of the punitive regime of student monitoring and control as expected of sponsors by UKBA. It was convenient that all UK universities were granted Highly Trusted Status by default and UKBA was hands off as far as these institutions are concerned, but once the box is opened, as it is now, it will be hard to close it back again.
Also, the UK universities collectively taken their above-the-board status too seriously and tried to profit from it. They have actively lobbied to cut the private college students out of part time working, to create an opportunity for themselves to take on those students on their own sponsorship and profit from this opportunity. With myopia typical of career bureaucrats, they have now created a system by which students remain in private colleges but study under their sponsorship, a cozy but unsustainable system which is spreading fast and is likely to come under scrutiny soon. Again, once that box is opened, it would be hard for the universities concerned to hide anywhere (London Metropolitan was one of them, sponsoring students in a private institution in London regarding which the Quality Assurance Agency has raised concerns recently, and this is also part of the university's problem).
In summary, the saga indicates the fragility of the current Higher Education/ Immigration system and that a rethink, a characteristic U-turn as this government is so used to, is needed. One could indeed follow the Australian example of Knight Review (as a commentator on one of my earlier post did point out), which looked at the declining student numbers, recognized that the global student market is a competitive space and laid out clear recommendations reconciling the requirements of international student community, private and public education providers and the public concerns about immigration. The government's desperate politicking has seriously harmed UK's perception as a welcoming place for global talent, and is now threatening its reputation for Higher Education and its Higher Education institutions. Though it is hard to see how Theresa May, the Home Secretary and a Tory with a hardline view on immigration, and Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, a somewhat lost Liberal, can work together (as it happened in case of Knight Review), but one would hope that this fiasco would prompt some action.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Religi
This post is a reaction to Aatish Taseer's evocative obituary of secular India in the Atlantic ( read here ). While I agree with it mostly - and share the reservations about the direction and the future of India - I differ with the author on one key aspect: I do not agree with his portrayal of a resurgent Bharat eating up a secular India. In fact, I believe while Mr Taseer regrets the Indian elite's loss of connection with the realities of day to day life of the country, his very presentation of Bharat and India as oppositional entities stems from that incomprehension. While I understand that he is only using these categories as RSS uses them - to effectively other the English-speaking elites and non-Hindus - I believe it is a mistake to describe the profound changes in contemporary India as the ascendance of Bharat. I grew up in Bharat. I never learnt English until late in life, when I started working. My growing-up world was one of small-town India, vernacu
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen was gui
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was, as
A lot of conversations about Kolkata is about its past; I want to talk about its future. Most conversations about Kolkata is about its decline - its golden moments and how times changed; I want to talk about its rise, how its best may lie ahead and how we can change the times. In place of pessimism, I seek optimism; instead of inertia, I am looking for imagination. It is not about catching up, I am arguing; it is about making a new path altogether. It had, indeed it had, a glorious past: One of the first Asian cities to reach a million population, the Capital of British India, the cradle of an Enlightened Age and a new politics of Cosmopolitanism. And, it had stumbled - losing the hinterland that supplied its Jute factories, overwhelmed by the refugees that came after the partition, devoid of its professional class who chose to emigrate - the City's commercial and professional culture evaporated in a generation, and it transformed into a corrupt and inefficien
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.