Stranded Indian students to be housed
The London campus of the Pune-based TASMAC, which offered MBA and other courses validated by the University of Wales, was shut down last week following the tightening of the norms for the short-duration courses.
The University of Wales said arrangements were being made to transfer the affected students to courses at other institutions. The university said in a statement: "The university has been in discussions with other collaborative centres to arrange for the 650 students on University of Wales programmes to transfer to programmes at these institutions".
It said that any transfers of students would be subject to the requirements of the UK Borders Agency (UKBA). The statement, issued in London, added: "If students do have to leave the country for any reason the University will offer the opportunity to transfer them on to a distance learning programme," apart from the option of taking an exit qualification.
In New Delhi, official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said India will do "everything possible" to ensure that its students are not adversely affected. "Our High Commission is monitoring the situation closely and would strive to ensure that students are not adversely affected. It is estimated that about 200 Indian students were enrolled with the school," the spokesperson said.
The official added, "Our High Commission in London (HCI) has established immediate contact with TASMAC, which has conveyed that it is working with the University of Wales to transfer the students to other educational institutions so that their studies are not disrupted."
The TASMAC school could not be contacted, but reports said that its staff had lost jobs after the school`s owners decided to shut it down. Its website, which mentions an address in Pune as its `Asia Admissions Office`, was still offering courses on Tuesday.
As per new immigration rules, institutions seeking to recruit international students need the status of a `Highly Trusted Sponsor`, which is granted after satisfying several formalities and maintaining the required standards.
The UK Border Agency said that TASMAC had indicated that it wanted to stop sponsoring foreign students and would surrender its licence to do so. A spokesman said: "Earlier this year, we announced that from April 2012 all institutions wanting to sponsor foreign students would have be classed as a Highly Trusted Sponsor by the UK Border Agency and would need to inspected by an approved educational oversight body by the end of 2012."
He added: "These changes protect legitimate students and ensure that only those education providers with a proven track record in immigration compliance will be licensed to bring international students to the UK." On its part, the University of Wales has adopted a new academic strategy to only award degrees on courses designed and fully controlled by the university.
Incidentally, University of Wales has been in the news for validating degrees at a partner college, the Rayat London College, where an Indian-origin lecturer allegedly advised students on exploiting visa loopholes.