More than 2,000 students potentially face deportation after a London university had its licence to teach and recruit overseas students revoked.
London Metropolitan University has had its right to sponsor students from outside the EU revoked, and will no longer be allowed to authorize visas.
The UK Border Agency says student attendance is not being monitored and that many have no right to be here.
The university said it would be challenging UKBA’s claims.
A task force has been set up to help students affected by the decision which means some 2,000 overseas, non-EU, students have 60 days to find an alternative institution to sponsor them or face deportation.
Announcing the move on Wednesday night, the UK Border Agency said London Metropolitan University had “failed to address serious and systemic failings” identified six months ago.
Analysis: Overseas students in the UK
With increased competition and pressure on funding, many UK universities have looked to the lucrative overseas student market.
This is because overseas, non-EU, students pay higher fees than home students.
In 2010-11, there were a total of 48,580 overseas undergraduates and 79,805 overseas postgraduates.
With regard to the key UK undergraduate population, it represents about 11% of the total.
But this translates to 32% of universities’ fee income.
Overall they contribute an estimated £5bn a year to the economy in terms of fees and wider spending.
Universities UK says this could increase to £16.9bn by 2025.
But it has warned that moves to tighten visa rules will hit the ability of UK universities to recruit foreign students.
The NUS and academics union, UCU, also fear that taking such a tough stance with London Metropolitan will send a damaging message to bona fide potential students eyeing UK universities from abroad.
However, the UKBA says London Metropolitan has failed to carry out basic procedures tracking the status and activities of its overseas students.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England said it was an “unprecedented situation which relates only to London Metropolitan University” – which has a total of 30,000 students.
It added: “It will not affect existing or future international students at other universities. No other UK university has had its licence to sponsor international students revoked, and UKBA’s decision does not in any way reflect concern about licensing arrangements at other universities in the UK.”
Source: BBC News (http://www.bbc.co.uk)