London university in visa storm loses students

More than 1,000 of the 2,600 international students affected when London Metropolitan University was stripped of its ability to sponsor students from outside the European Union (EU) have either completed their courses or have graduated from the university.

Those with more than a year left to complete their studies have been told they will be able to study at London Met until the summer of 2013.

A task force established by Universities Minister David Willetts to mitigate the effect of the UK Border Agency decision in August to revoke the university's highly trusted status, held its final meeting on 15 October.

But officials will continue to try to find a solution for the 2013-14 academic year.

Of the remaining 1,600 or so students, fewer than half of those eligible to do so have re-enrolled at London Met. More than 750 students have either transferred to other institutions or are still considering their options.

Students have to tell the UK Border Agency by 31 October whether they are continuing at London Met, transferring elsewhere or have decided to leave the country.

The extra year concession to students from outside the EU with a valid Tier 4 visa who are either enrolled at the university or have an offer of a place, followed a legal challenge to the Border Agency revocation order.

With the position of London Met's international students directly affected by the revocation almost stabilised, the task force led by Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, shifted its focus to the implementation of a £2 million (US$3.2 million) support fund for students financially disadvantaged by the debacle.

As of 15 October the fund had received more than 150 applications for assistance with visa reapplication costs, extra tuition fees and additional expenses. It will continue to accept applications until the end of October.

At the end of this month, the task force will submit a summary of the main events relating to the revocation and the work of the task force to Willetts.