london met

Sep. 4th, 2012 10:30 am
glitzfrau: (jesusgun)
[personal profile] glitzfrau
I was going to post a big long rant about how angry I am that the UK Borders Agency has revoked London Metropolitan University's right to issue visas, leaving thousands of international students threatened with deportation right before the beginning of term. The The Pequod posted pretty much exactly what I think of this decision, so that's OK. One or two extra points:
  • [livejournal.com profile] biascut argues, correctly, that the whole ungodly mess is largely the result of government cuts. UKBA is woefully understaffed, and is running four months behind in issuing visas. Meanwhile, they have outsourced as much as possible of their work to universities.

  • This is the one I am furious about, and have been for three years: I am an unpaid agent of the UKBA. If you work in UK higher education, chances are you are too. Every time I fill in an attendance register for a class online, it is sent to UKBA, and if international students miss too many classes, they're liable to deportation - because of my actions. I don't know who's an EU student in my classes, and I don't want to know. I don't want to discriminate. But an EU student has the right to attend a family funeral at short notice, take time off for the Olympics, spend a morning in bed with a hangover, with no greater sanction than a bollocking from me or, at worst, suspension from studies; non-EU students get deported for that. I think that's gross. In fact, I think when I go back I have half a mind to check which students are non-EU and mark them present at every class, just because.

  • What is the result of an international headline stating 'International students at UK university to be deported through no fault of their own?' A drop in international recruitment, of course. Commentators are arguing that this is an appalling knock-on effect, that the reputational damage is irreparable, what were the government thinking? I say, if you want to know why a decision was made, look at its outcomes. Outcome: the Daily Mail is happy, racism is stoked among the population (all the discourse in the headlines is about 'genuine' versus 'fraudulent' students - just as it was last year about 'fraudulent' benefits claimants), and Johnny Foreigner is told he's jolly well not welcome in Britain. I would say that's exactly what the government wanted to achieve. Where is David Willetts, defending these students and the institution? Nowhere. That speaks for itself.

  • And ANOTHER thing: I suspect one ancillary reason why the government doesn't give a toss or is rejoicing in London Met's downfall is that they are mostly Oxbridge poshos. They can't imagine that any 'genuine' international student could possibly want to pay £30,000 to attend a dismal ex-poly like London Met. Everyone knows that genuine international students are luminaries like Aung San Su Kyi and Benazir Bhutto studying PPE at Oxbridge and glittering in the Students' Union there.

    What Brazilian would pay through the nose to do a scummy course like - ugh! - media or business studies at London Met? Only a fraudster, clearly. About time this racket was closed down, and elitist excellence restored. If the knock-on effect damages more of those so-called 'new universities', so much the better, right? They were supposed to wither away and die under the new fees regime anyway.


END OF RANT. I am cross. But oh well, the booing of George Osborne and cheering of Gordon Brown at the Paralympics last night are glorious things.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 10:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] biascut.livejournal.com
There is also WonkHE's contention that London Met has been doing exactly what the government wanted, slashing their fees, cutting back their administration as much as possible and outsourcing it to the private sector (apparently LMU had a tender out for their whole student services.) WonkHE speculates that the VC thought they'd be protected from UKBA whilst they made the changeover because it's so exactly what non-elite universities have been told to do.

What Brazilian would pay through the nose to do a scummy course like - ugh! - media or business studies at London Met?

Or telecommunications engineering, or dietetics, or pharmaceutical sciences, or governance and international relations, or textile design ... no no no, these are not courses which students might choose to come to the UK to study!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 02:59 pm (UTC)
ext_37604: (sharp ideas)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
Because places like London Met are just threadbare scams with no claim at all to be world class. The only reason international students pay thousands to study there is that they are duped or coming to work in the UK illegally. I genuinely don't understand this Tory/British habit of complaining all the time about national decline etc, and then working furiously to rubbish any institution (London Met, GCSEs, the NHS) that show provable signs of excellence. Unless it's all just about privatisation.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 11:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] realdoll.livejournal.com
I have said this in a few places, but there's no WAY the government would have let this happen to a Russell group university. They just wouldn't. The entire way the government is approaching international students is absurd, but the discrimination in this case particularly enrages me.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 11:21 am (UTC)
ext_37604: (Default)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
Yes. Word. The combination of racism, elitism and asset-stripping capitalism is vile. The WonkHE post linked to by [livejournal.com profile] biascut above suggests, alarmingly and plausibly, that this now prepares the field for a takeover of London Met by BPP or similar private racketeer.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 12:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] realdoll.livejournal.com
Having studied at CofL, the thought of this horrifies me. Their pastoral support is awful and totally lacking in humanity or flexibility. As a disabled student, getting reasonable adjustments out of them was like pulling teeth. Everything was done with an eye to profit. There was no focus on academic excellence, just on hitting the required vocational targets. No SU (though I believe that had to change when it got uni status) so no mechanism for students to effect any change or protest unfairness.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 03:04 pm (UTC)
ext_37604: (schiller)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
That's dreadful, though exactly what I've heard about private higher education conglomerates (or even smaller private colleges). I hadn't heard so specifically about the danger they pose to vulnerable students, though, so thank you for sharing that.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 01:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] suicideally.livejournal.com
There's a good blog here about the situation at London Met: http://andrewmcgettigan.org/2012/08/30/seriously-deficient-or-whither-london-met-or-wheres-willetts/ Your points about the government's role are undoubtedly true (and this won't be the last working-class university to fall apart as fees rise), but there have also been serious institutional failings at London Met.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 01:30 pm (UTC)
ext_37604: (Default)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
Yes, it's an excellent post. There have been failings at London Met, but those are administrative failings. Students, and the reputation of UK higher education abroad in general, are being punished because of the underfunding and bad management in one department of one university.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 01:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] suicideally.livejournal.com
By the by, one of my undergrad lecturers used to just mark all of us as present for every lecture, to save students not just from UKBA but from the university administrators (as 70% attendance was necessary to be eligible to pass a module). He was of the opinion that we were all adults and could come to lectures or not as we pleased!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 01:48 pm (UTC)
ext_37604: (stern taskmistress)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
Heh. I used to think that, too, but I'm super-strict now. Not coming to lectures damages the education and the morale of the rest of the class, and I give students hell for insulting fellow-students by not bothering to turn up.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 01:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] suicideally.livejournal.com
We were all reasonably swotty students and really did come to class most of the time - perhaps his tactics would have been different if he'd got more difficult ones. He never used to fine us marks for late essays, either, though told me (when I was back doing my MA) that he had had to start fining his current class as they just could not be induced to hand essays in roughly on time.

Still - perhaps some combination of telling off in person/marking present on the register could be trialed?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 02:34 pm (UTC)
ext_37604: (stern taskmistress)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
perhaps some combination of telling off in person/marking present on the register could be trialed?

That's exactly the problem. As a teacher, I believe in strict and efficient monitoring of absenteeism. As a defender of equality and international education (and as a union member - the union has banned using online registers), I believe in boycotting the system. The government has put our teaching ethics in conflict with our political ethics, and has been facilitated in this by universities, who must implement its policies. Nasty.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 02:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] realdoll.livejournal.com
I barely went to a lecture as an undergrad and the only impact it had on other students would be they had more room to sit in the lecture theatre! I agree re seminars, though.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 02:55 pm (UTC)
ext_37604: (stern taskmistress)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
Mm, I'm not sure I agree. Not bothering to turn up sends out a message that you're a fool if you do make the effort, plus students who don't turn up always pester the attenders for notes. (I say as someone who skipped as many of her first year linguistics lectures as she possibly could, and now regrets it.)

But in my discipline, lectures are small enough to be interactive - I rarely have more than 60 in a lecture theatre, and I call on them by name. I expect students to come prepared, do group work, answer questions and come up with problems in lectures. I do more talking in a lecture than in a seminar, but students are definitely missing out if they don't turn up.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-05 07:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dawnage.livejournal.com
I agree: it is insulting. It displays a disregard for peers and tutors, as well as an arrogance that one already knows so much that they cannot learn from others.

However, I am a teacher so possibly a little biased on this matter.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] biascut.livejournal.com
Lectures or seminars? Lectures were optional for us, but seminars were compulsory.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 02:34 pm (UTC)
ext_37604: (stern taskmistress)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
They're all compulsory for our students.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 07:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kissmeforlonger.livejournal.com
I can only agree with your complete outrage.

How can London Met have been stupid enough to sack staff in the Registry then expect to be able to keep on top of UK BA commitments - a very demanding piece of work.

The people who suffer ultimately are the overseas students who are already there and can't go anywhere else. And they're suffering in the name of improving the overseas student experience for everyone else! Apparently!

"that's how grateful we are"!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-04 07:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] smoke-rising.livejournal.com
The real PR problem is going to come from those 2,600 continuing students who have 60 days to find another institution (in September) or go home. Large numbers of whom have done nothing wrong.

The institutional failings are serious, though. Students who don't have leave to remain, or a B1 level in English, should not have been enrolled under current legislation. Of course, the former highlights the essentially racist nature of the limitations (I teach people from Spain and Colombia in the same class quite often, they speak the same language and often have similar qualifications - but their opportunities in the UK are hugely different). I wonder how the B1 English is evidenced: do institutions have to send IELTS certificates to UKBA? The rules on that are going to get tighter, too: I think for level 6 courses a B2 will be needed soon.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-05 09:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] biascut.livejournal.com
I wonder how the B1 English is evidenced: do institutions have to send IELTS certificates to UKBA?

We have to have a file for each individual student containing about six pieces of evidence, one of which is the proof of English competence (so an IELTS or equivalent.) We going to get audited in something like the end of October, I think, and if there are any files that aren't 100% complete, BIG TROUBLE.