College Stripped of Overseas Students Sponsorship Licence
Trusted higher education institutions are permitted to sponsor entry into the UK by students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). However, as one High Court case made plain, that is not a right but a privilege that can be taken away if abused.
The case concerned a privately run science and technology college that had in the past been recognised as a highly trusted institution and had been licensed by the Home Office to sponsor entry by both staff and students from outside the EEA. Following a review, however, that licence was revoked.
That was primarily on grounds that the college had failed to properly assess whether a number of students were able to follow courses of study, whether they intended to do so and whether their chosen courses represented academic progression. The Home Office considered that the students concerned had enrolled with the college in order to remain in the UK rather than with the intention of bettering themselves.
Those allegations were hotly disputed by the college, which mounted a judicial review challenge on a number of grounds. In dismissing its case, however, the Court could detect nothing irrational in the Home Office’s criticisms of the procedures it had in place to guard against abuse of the sponsorship system. The decision to revoke its licence was clearly justified on the evidence.