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BBC documentary sheds light on London Met/UKBA dispute

Documents obtained by the BBC reveal new details in the dispute between the UK Border Agency and London Metropolitan University.

The documents were discussed in an episode of The Report, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 20 September.

According to the programme, UKBA licensed London Met to sponsor overseas students at the London School of Business and Finance, which is a private college. UKBA later wrote to the university to outline remaining concerns.

The college will have offered to pay London Met to validate some of its courses and sponsor its overseas students in addition to the 4,000 international students London Met was allowed to sponsor at its own institution.

“This was obviously a commercial arrangement,” the journalist and researcher Andrew McGettigan told the programme. “The LSBF would be paying fees to London Met, both for the validation and for any other arrangement associated with the partnership.”

Although the UKBA validated the deal, it later communicated a change of heart to London Met, which took the university by surprise. “We had thought they were broadly happy,” one London Met document is quoted in the programme, “given they had signed off our agreement with LSBF. They then wrote to us last week saying they still have some concerns.”

The revocation of London Met’s licence to sponsor overseas students in August was described as a “surprise” by both the university and LSBF because they say they were expecting a fuller review outlining the UKBA’s concerns in October.