Dear Mr Bassie,
I understand the United Kingdom Border Agency has the right to withdraw the licence of a sponsor, to sponsor students from outside of the European Union.
I am presently enrolled at one such institution and would like to know how such an action by the authorities would affect me. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
You are correct, the United Kingdom Border Agency does have the right to withdraw the licence of a sponsor, to sponsor students from outside of the European Union, and has done so.
The withdrawal of an educational institution's licence means that the institution has been removed from the register of licensed sponsors, and students from outside the European Union will no longer be allowed to study at that educational institution.
In a situation like this, the British authorities are aware that international students will be affected and the authorities will advise the institution of the withdrawal. Students that are already in the United Kingdom with a current valid United Kingdom visa would not need to do anything immediately.
The government has created a task force, which includes the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Universities UK, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the United Kingdom Border Agency and the National Union of Students, that will immediately start working. The purpose of this coalition task force is to work with the affected institution and also to support and assist those affected. It also aims to enable qualified, genuine students to find another institution where they can continue their studies within the United Kingdom.
If an existing student at the institution holds a current valid visa and is on holiday outside the United Kingdom, then he or she will be allowed to return to the United Kingdom. However, if a student is planning to start at the institution, then he or she should not travel.
It should be noted that there have been minimal problems with institutions, and Britain remains a top-class destination for top-class international students. Where the sponsor's licence has been revoked, the United Kingdom Border Agency has permitted existing bona fide students to continue with their studies until their course has ended or the end of the academic year, whichever is sooner, as long as they are meeting the Tier 4 criteria and requirements.
However, if students are found to be residing there illegally and are in violation of the immigration law, then he or she will not be permitted to stay.
The authorities will continue to check on any affected students at the institution. However, if a student is in doubt as to what the loss of such a licence means to him or her, then he or she should contact the authorities for clarification.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: email@example.com.