SWAN’s position on the decision by the UK Border Agency to suspend London Metropolitan University's power to recruit students from outside the EU

The Social Work Action Network (SWAN) denounces the decision by the UK Border Agency to suspend the power of London Metropolitan University to recruit students from outside the EU. This means that 2,700 current overseas students must find new courses within 60 days, or face deportation from the UK. The University itself faces serious questions about its financial sustainability.

Alongside other disciplines affected by the decision are the social work courses. SWAN has members among the social work lecturing staff at London Metropolitan University who tell us that two of their students have been struggling to deal with the fall-out of this decision.

A London Met international social work student may face deportationOne student, on the BSc course, has been moved to a different course related to safeguarding; not the social work qualification they paid for. The other student is on the MSc programme – this person has almost finished their course with the exception of their final placement. The lecturers feel that this person is unlikely to be able to find an alternative course within the time available. This latter student, like many of the hundreds of current other non-EU students, could be deported to his/her country of origin, without gaining any qualification from the course that he/she paid for and which the state funded.

For SWAN, opposing this decision is a matter of social justice.

It is unjust for those studying; this will have a serious effect on the education and longer term prospects of these students and possibly the families and friends who have supported them to gain the qualification. Such students have paid for a qualification they may not receive.

It skews the purpose of the university and the relationships within it as it places a responsibility on the institution to police their students on behalf of UKBA (who appear to be responding to a populist anti-immigration mood). The students are innocent of any alleged immigration breaches.  UKBA’s move echoes the government’s PREVENT agenda which placed a comparable responsibility on universities to identify and report extremism among students. Should this be the role of a university? What does it do to the relationship between lecturers and students?

It damages international, cross-cultural learning and exchange. Social work is an international profession; welcoming the experience of students from across the globe is a necessary part of the efforts to understand and address global social problems such as poverty and inequality.

Please sign the petitions calling for an amnesty for the London Met students here:




Please also attend the demonstration on Wednesday 5th September 2012 from 13:00 at the Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF.

SWAN London


NB: Subsequent to the publication of this article, Community Care wrote this piece making reference to SWAN:


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