The mad rush for a London degree
Hundreds of Indian students face an uncertain future, even deportation, after the London Metropolitan University [LMU], a major university in Britain was refused permission to admit non-European Union students. As per reports, up to 2600 students will be affected by the decision of the United Kingdom Border Agency [UKBA] which has cancelled LMU’s license to admit international students on accounts of ‘serious and systemic failures’. What these failures are, the agency has not elaborated, but we can assume that they are substantive enough to merit a blanket ban on admitting students from non-EU countries. A result of the ban is that the new students who were supposed to join the university this fall semester will have their visas revoked or will be deported to their home country on arrival. The existing students have been given 60 days to enrol in other institutions to enable them to stay on in the UK. The move has come as a shock to the higher education industry in Britain which routinely woos international students to enrol in universities and institutions of higher learning. UK’s many arms of higher education heavily promote the universities because much of their sustenance depends on the fees and other capital that is brought into the system by rich students enrolling from non-EU countries. That gung-ho excitement about a foreign degree from Britain that sells hard in countries like India may be seriously jeopardised by developments in LMU.
The university, on its behalf, has announced setting up a task force to guide students in their pursuit of other universities in Britain but this may be easier said than done. LMU is not fly-by-night institute or degree-factory in some forlorn US city but a well-known university in the heart of London. So the implications are indeed large and unfortunate. At one level, it points to some serious lacuna in the higher education factories across the western world, which capitalise on the fetish for foreign degrees in developing countries, and to whose lure Indian students are especially susceptible. It also points to a lacuna in the Indian higher education system in which thousands are discarded and hence seek degrees from dubious universities in exchange for fat fees and then, in a case like above, put their future and the hard earned money of their guardians and sponsors, in jeopardy.
The Indian government should not only try to work out a safe way for students out of the LMU imbroglio but should also consider this as a case which should trigger serious thinking about the situation both here and abroad. Students, in the mad rush for degrees, should not be taken for a ride.