London Met in danger of “Northern Rock-type” situation

A clear statement as to London Metropolitan University’s future financial sustainability needs to be made in order to avoid a “Northern Rock-type” situation, BPP University College’s CEO Carl Lygo has warned.

At the end of last week it emerged that in view of alleged immigration failings at London Met the UK Border Agency (UKBA) planned to revoke it’s licence to teach and recruit students from outside the European Economic Area, thereby threatening more than 2,000 international students with deportation.

Following confirmation of the UKBA decision on Wednesday, Vice Chancellor of London Met, Professor Malcolm Gillies, warned that the future of the university, which has 30,000 students, is at stake, because the revocation could blow a £30m hole in its budget.

On Thursday morning, 106 students attended BPP’s Shepherds Bush admissions centre, only six of whom met BPP’s English language requirement for admission.

Since that time 30 students, both home and international, from London Met’s law school have sought transfer to BPP, of whom five have so far met the entry requirements for transfer.

Lygo said “Since the story broke on Sunday, we have experienced an increase in calls from students and parents (international and home) who are concerned about the future of London Metropolitan University and its ability to continue to deliver law programmes.

“At the heart of this is the uncertainty that students are being faced with – they have been in limbo for 5 days. A clear statement needs to be made about LMU’s future financial sustainability as soon as possible, in order to avoid the type of Northern Rock situation, where the public took matters into their own hands. The queues outside their branches four years ago are not dissimilar to the outcry and protests demonstrated by anxious students yesterday.”

The College of Law has also received applications from London Met students, and Sarah Hutchinson, director of business development, said that CoL was happy to receive applications and, provided they met CoL’s entry requirements students, would be in time to start their course in September.

Lygo added: “Our higher education sector in the UK is second to none, and I know that many universities are pulling together to ensure that we don’t let future generations down, as a result of this. We are conscious that, in some cases, financial hardship and other factors sometimes play a part in preventing people from studying law, and with that in mind, we would remind those people that there are scholarships available”.

The government has set up a taskforce consisting of the UKBA, the Department of Business, Universities UK, the higher education funding body HEFCE, and the National Union of Students to deal with the situation.

Several universities have set up help lines for London Metropolitan students affected by the decision, including The University of East London on 0208 223 3300 and Birmingham City University on 0121 331 6714.

London Met has also set up a help line on 020 7133 4141.

The SRA has also become involved with Yve Schelhaas, SRA Director of Education & Training, saying: “We are aware of the announcement about the revocation and the impact this may have on some students. We have been in contact with the university and will work with staff there to ensure that wherever possible, current students are not disadvantaged by the situation and if appropriate are able to continue their studies.

“We have asked for information about all law students there, including what courses are being taught, how these courses are structured and how many students are affected.”