UK Tier 4 and Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship Licence suspended for Bucks

Buckinghamshire New University's Tier 4 sponsorship licence has been suspended, preventing them from accepting new admissions of overseas students from outside the EU; Students sponsored by the University exceeded the visa refusal rate permitted by UK Immigration. In addition the Tier 2 sponsorship licence to enable the University to employ professional level workers from outside the EU was also suspended.

Bucks failed to meet Home Office Tier 4 student visa refusal rate target

Bucks University had to meet the previous UK Immigration target for student visa refusals of 20 percent or less. Bucks New University missed hitting the target by just 1.16 percentage points, the equivalent of three students. It is even more difficult now. In November 2014, tougher requirements were implemented with the acceptable Home Office refusal rate threshold being reduced from 20 percent to 10 percent.

Suspension of both Tier 4 and Tier 2 Sponsorship Licences

The suspension of Bucks New Univiversity's Tier 4 and Tier 2 sponsorship prevents the University from sponsoring new students and employees from outside the EU. Buckinghamshire New University have 20 days to appeal the suspension by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). However, should the university fail in persuading the Home Office that they should keep their licence, their Tier 4 sponsorship licence will be revoked.

Staff and student wellbeing

Bucks New University's vice-chancellor, Rebecca Bunting, said: "Our main concern is the welfare and wellbeing of staff and students. We're working continuously, along with all other UK universities, to improve our systems and processes in order to comply with a challenging set of sponsorship rules and our senior management team will be cooperating fully with UKVI."

She added: "We have been given time to check our information against UKVI's data and that work has commenced."

Criticism of Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence Requirements

The new lower threshold for visa refusals at ten percent has attracted criticism because, while universities issue Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies to non-EU students accepted by the University, which are subsequently used for the visa application, universities have no real control over visa refusal rates.

Errors on student documentation and Home Office judgements in credibility interviews are two of the decisive factors, among many, which can result in rejection.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office stated: "Universities must ensure they have robust compliance systems in place or risk losing their privilege to sponsor foreign students.

All institutions holding a Tier 4 sponsor licence must pass an annual assessment in order to retain the ability to recruit international students. Bucks New University failed to pass this assessment so we have suspended its licence."

Glyndwr University

Buckinghamshire New University is not the only University that has failed to meet UKVI requirements, Glyndwr University currently faces continuing restrictions on its licence to recruit foreign students from outside the EU amid allegations that hundreds of its students held 'invalid' or 'suspect' English language qualifications.

Two other universities that had their sponsorship licences suspended are the University of Bedfordshire and the University of West London, which had their licences suspended for a time in June 2014. The good news is that these Universities have now been informed that they can now continue to sponsor overseas students.

Problems with decision making at Home Office and organisation sponsored by Home Office

Comments by Sanwar Ali, Editor, News

With the General Election fast approaching it is surely important for us to look at the track record of the Home Office and an organisation sponsored by the Home Office when it comes to decision making. We are extremely concerned about the secretive nature of decision making at the above organisations.

Why was both the Tier 4 and Tier 2 sponsorship licences suspended for Bucks New University? Did suspension of the Tier 4 licence affect the Tier 2 sponsorship licence? If so why?

Our investigations have revealed that far too often what happens is that a Government organisation or quasi non-Governmental organisation makes a decision in one area (say in the case of the Home Office suspending a sponsorship licence) but then decides to take further action where there is no real reason to do so, and in a number of cases where there is no jurisdiction to do so. This is a serious abuse of State power and leads to shocking injustices occurring. Whatever happens after the General Election on 7 May 2015 it is hoped that the new Government will not allow this to happen in future.