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London Met: thousands face deportation in racist crackdown

JUST WEEKS after London was touted as a multicultural paradise during the Olympics, international students at London Metropolitan University have been told to find a new university place or face deportation. KD Tait writes

Around 2,600 non-EU students have had their education thrown into jeopardy by the decision of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to strip London Met of its right to issue visas to students from abroad, its Highly Trusted Status (HTS). They will be unable to renew their visas or continue their studies past September and could be forcibly removed from the country in December. Both the students’ union and University and College Union branch condemned the move.

The government said,

Allowing London Met to continue to sponsor and teach international students was not an option.

The Tories are trying to achieve their racist election pledge of slashing immigrant numbers.

For many universities, foreign students are treated as a cash cow. They are charged much higher fees, and their dependence on the University for visas means an insecure existence. In 2010-11, 15 per cent of London Met’s income came from foreign students.

No surprise then that the pro-fees university bosses’ organisation, Universities UK, condemned the decision. But they are motivated more by fear it will put off lucrative foreign students than any concern for equal access to education.

Racism

It’s no coincidence that the government’s attack on foreign students came on the same day its immigration statistics were published. These figures showed a decline in the numbers of immigrants – mainly due to a 20 per cent cut in new student visas.

But the Con-Dem government is determined to distort our understanding of immigration – by blaming poor immigrant workers and students for the social problems caused by a system which exploits millions for the profit of a few.

Student visas account for 40 per cent of all immigration into the UK. The majority are paying vast sums to study with very little security. In 2008, one of the first cuts made to pay for the bailout of the banks was state funding for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses. This mostly affected poor and female immigrants.

Now the students at London Met are being penalised for the failings of the university bosses and UKBA.

Defend education

Education is a right that should be provided, with free and equal access to all. The barriers to education are used as a weapon to separate the skilled from unskilled, men from women, and white from black.

The rich have no barriers to moving their fortunes to tax-havens – yet their racist border laws impose controls over the freedom to find work or education. They should all be abolished.

We reject any attempts to turn people against immigrant students and workers. They face the same cuts and social problems as their neighbours, along with the racist violence of the media and police.

Anti-racists, the NUS and teaching unions should immediately launch a campaign to get the students’ visas immediately reinstated.

We call for citizenship rights for all undocumented workers, with no penalisations.

We stand for equal access to education for all, free and paid for by raising taxes on the banks and capitalists.

Workers Power supports a statement of solidarity with the students, calling for the government to reinstate London Met’s HTS status and stop the persecution of foreign students.

You can sign the statement at here

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