Education workers and students are preparing for further protests this week to defend international students at London Metropolitan University.
Up to 3,000 international students have been thrown off their courses at London Met following a ruling by the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
It claimed that some students shouldn’t be in Britain and that London Met wasn’t keeping proper records of non-EU students.
The students, who have paid their fees to study at London Met, now have to look for alternative courses. If they don’t manage to find any, they could be deported. The chaos flows from the Tory crackdown on immigration.
Around 300 workers, students and others joined an angry protest at the Home Office on Wednesday of last week against the UKBA ruling.
Max Watson, chair of the Unison union at London Met, said, “No student should leave this university. Our slogan is ‘education not deportation’.”
Kathy Turner, president of the lecturers’ UCU, brought solidarity from the union. She said, “I want to congratulate you on the stand you’re taking. All international students are welcome here.”
Mark Campbell, chair of the UCU at London Met, added, “It’s very simple. They are not going to deport our students. We have been instructed not to teach the students. But we will continue to teach them and stand with them—whatever it takes.”
Speakers described the impact of the Tories’ crackdown on immigration. Daniel Stevens, international students’ officer for the NUS, said he lived “in fear of the UKBA”.
“International students are treated like criminals,” he said. “We’re monitored by universities, police and politicians. I’m tired of living in fear. International students have to make a stand.”
And Ifesinachi, a student who recently graduated from London Met, attacked the idea that international students don’t go to lectures.
She showed Socialist Worker a copy of her attendance record that proved she regularly attended classes. “The government is scapegoating London Met,” she said.
Over 7,500 people have signed an online petition calling for an amnesty for international students at London Met. The students have won support from across Britain and around the world.
Workers are clear that the management at London Met, which has been pushing privatisation, is partly to blame for the fiasco.
Yaz Djebbour is a UCU rep there. “Management are doing the dirty work of the UKBA,” he told Socialist Worker,
“We’ve got a large number of international students doing MAs, PhDs and postgraduate courses. Many are in their second year. They won’t be able to simply transfer to another university.”
Noelle Ali is studying at London Met. “I can’t have my friends leaving in the middle of their courses,” she said. “Everyone should have the right to study wherever they like.”
The UCU and Unison unions at London Met, together with the students union, have called for lunchtime protests at colleges across Britain on Friday of this week. Everyone who can should support them.