No news on LSBF Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship Licence

Having had its Tier 4 visa sponsorship licence to recruit international students revoked the fate of the London School of Business and Finance's (LSBF) Tier 2 Visa sponsorship licence to employ overseas workers from outside the EU remains unknown. After losing its Tier 4 visa sponsorship licence, hundreds of international students who now have to leave the UK are demanding their money back.

Around 350 LSBF students have been affected by LSBF's Tier 4 licence revocation. They have been asked to leave the UK by the end of March. The private college, which lists Prince Michael of Kent as a patron, lost its licence in January; many of its students have to leave the UK midway through their courses.

The LSBF says that some students have already received refunds. However, one student from South America who wished to remain anonymous said: "I and several other students are still waiting for a refund on our Master of Business Administration (MBA) courses, plus compensation for living costs and plane tickets."

Students ask London School of Business and Finance's (LSBF) to refund fees

Many of the students affected have paid the LSBF course fees of up to £9,000. The students say that their own UK visa and immigration applications were accepted by the Home Office following a lengthy process, which included face-to-face interviews in some cases lasting over an hour. However, according to UK immigration the percentage of students accepted by the college who had their UK visas rejected exceeded the ten percent Home Office threshold.

Home Office rules state that if an institution exceeds the 10 per cent visa refusal rate for its students, it will have its licence to sponsor non-EU students suspended or revoked. For students, this means that the Home Office will contact them and most likely they will have to leave the country within 60 days.

The LSBF students are the largest group from a single institution to have their visas curtailed as a result of the Home Office rules. In 2013, 150 students attending the London Metropolitan University were forced to leave Britain when the institution lost its licence.

LSBF changes timetables to cram in more lessons for Tier 4 visa students

Since losing its tier 4 sponsorship licence the LSBF has changed its timetables in order to cram teaching sessions into a six week timescale. Courses were originally set to end in July or September. Students say that the rush to complete courses early means less access to libraries and academic supervision.

One student said: "When I return to Africa I won't be able to access the internet. How does the LSBF expect me to do my research or submit assignments or contact my supervisor?" While another student said: "You pay for the experience and this is very different from the experience we were expecting."

Most of the students felt they were being unfairly punished. They could not believe that this was happening in the UK. Students are also concerned that the relevant awarding bodies will not be accommodating when it comes to awarding degrees or diplomas after students have completed shortened versions of their courses of study.

One student said: "There's an Italian distance-learning university, Uninettuno, whose offices are in Rome, which accredits the MBA. The LSBF has forwarded students an email attachment which says Uninettuno is aware of the new arrangements. However, the letter, which is addressed 'Dear Student' rather than to a specific individual, means no one knows precisely what course the letter applies to. Equally, it's not signed."

"I have asked for another letter that's signed, printed and names me specifically," the student added.

Student concerns about Tier 4 visa situation

The students affected by the whole debacle have expressed their concerns and are growing increasingly worried that they might not receive their degrees. Students are understood to be requesting written confirmation of when they can expect to get their diplomas or other qualifications and an indication of when graduation ceremonies will be held.

A request for comment was submitted to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which oversees UK higher education, by the BBC. They referred the issue to the Home Office, who in turn said that 'it could not intervene in matters relating to commercial issues and disputes between individuals and colleges in relation to payment and possible refund of fees.'

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: "All institutions holding a licence to recruit international students must pass an annual assessment in order to retain it. London School of Business and Finance failed to pass this annual assessment so its licence has been revoked."

Tier 4 Visa International students deserve protection

However, the Chief executive of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, Dominic Scott, said that international students should be entitled to protection. He said: "This is just another desperately depressing example of the Home Office taking action against an institution, but then no other government department taking responsibility for helping those entirely innocent international students affected."

However, the Chief executive of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, Dominic Scott, said that international students should be entitled to protection. He said: "This is just another desperately depressing example of the Home Office taking action against an institution, but then no other government department taking responsibility for helping those entirely innocent international students affected."

London School of Business and Finance's Tier 2 sponsorship licence

It's unknown at this time if the LSBF will lose its Tier 2 visa sponsorship licence, which allows them to employ overseas workers from outside of the EU. In September 2015, the institution had its Tier 2 sponsorship licence suspended. It was later reinstated, but the fact that the Tier 4 sponsorship licence has now been revoked could see the Tier 2 sponsorship licence revoked too.

What is known, is that the LSBF is likely to have to wait two years before it can even apply to sponsor international students on Tier 4 visas again. Professor Maurits van Rooijen, LSBF's rector and chief executive said: "Our priority is that students can complete their study programme and that they are not financially punished by this regrettable action by the Home Office."

"Fortunately, due to the structure of the LSBF, we can support our students via an online learning program and across sites worldwide or with our international and domestic partners."

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