Perfidious Albion

Sign at a British airport that says "Welcome to Britain"BBC News - Leading music college loses border licence

Point Blank Music College, a well-regarded college which seems to specialise in modern music (teachers include DJ Pete Tong, alumni include Goldie and Leona Lewis) has lost its licence to sponsor students from outside the European Union, meaning that students they already sponsor have weeks to find a new college to sponsor their studies or leave the country. The reason is that more than 20% of the college’s applications for sponsorship over the period from June 2011 to June 2012; the number refused was 14 out of 33, which was 42% of the total, and the total refusal rate must be below 20%. Last year London Metropolitan University in east London also lost its permission to sponsor foreign students (known as highly trusted sponsor status), and 2000 students were affected.

The decision is unjust for two reasons. The first is obviously that Point Blank can have its status revoked on the basis that a tiny number of students were refused visas, while a large college can have a much greater number than that refused and still keep its status. It may well be that Point Blank lacks the resources to check everyone’s status adequately, being as it is a small college or at least one that takes relatively few foreign students. The Border Agency exists to screen out people who apply to study but do not have the means of support or the academic qualifications to justify studying at a British university or other specialist college; it should not be a college admissions department’s responsibility.

However, the biggest reason is that enticing foreign students to come here and study for a three-year degree, and then expelling them from the country halfway through because of failings by others that have nothing to do with them, is not only unjust but dishonest. Many of the students will have had their family’s life savings invested in their studies, and come from countries where wages are considerably lower than here, and their money goes much less far here than it does there. It is theft on a grand scale from poor people, and will mark the British as thieves in the eyes of nationals of the countries these students come from and possibly expose British nationals abroad to increased risk of theft and British businesses to theft and fraud.

This country does it, of course, because of past press manufactured “scandals” about “bogus language schools” acting as conduits for illegal immigrants who work rather than studying. Immigrants are an easy target for the press, and the government (regardless of its political colour) would rather stick the boot into one of their easy targets than face down the manufacturers of prejudice. Surely, telling a genuine college (let alone an accredited university) from a fake language school is not that difficult — it is a matter of how many classes they put on per week and how many students attend. We do not need to resort to this immoral and spiteful act of theft to make sure that too many fake students do not make it into the country and take petty jobs from Brits who would not do them anyway.

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