London: Student Visa Chaos jostles an Education Capitol

“Education aims to give you a boost up the ladder of knowledge.  But too often, it causes a cramp while you sit on one of its rungs.”  ~Martin H. Fischer

Every now and then, it’s important to keep an ‘ice breaker’ question handy, just in case the small talk chatter during a monthly happy hour fades, because really there’s only so much conversation mileage when it comes to football.  So last week during a monthly ‘Wine Roundtable’ as my friends like to call it, someone put forth a question to the crew that dumbstruck all conversation mid-sentence.  Which gig would you hypothetically avoid at literally all cost: Penn State’s current VP of Marketing or RIM/Blackberry’s CMO responsibilities?

Having read about the recent student visa issues taking place overseas in London, I chimed in to offer a third alternative, “Well either way at least they’re not the immigration lawyers on case at London Metropolitan University…” and with that we all clinked glasses, lifting a hopeful prayer to the Paperwork Gods.  As every international student knows too well, dealing with visa administration/processing requires a patience threshold to rivals Job’s.  So in an extra effort to send out optimistic energy to the overseas students under fire across the pond, I also lit some extra candles – better safe than sorry.

Courtesy of CSmonitor.com

In order to resolve any problem, it’s paramount to first consider why/how things collapse, so that later when creating future operations, new procedures avoid former detrimental, mistakes. However no amount of mediation will correct a disagreement if those arguing fail to establish consistent, fair terms outlining how they’ll proceed.

In the case of LMU versus the UK Border Agency (UKBA), it’s evidently clear that neither party knows how to handle the system pitfalls concerning student immigration data and visa control.  As a result, according to a BBC World News report, come December 2012 “some 2,o00+ foreign students are affected and have until 1 December to find an alternative course or arrange to leave the UK.”  Comparatively, this almost makes waiting to find out about flight cancellations feel like a spa treatment.  It’s true, although LMU’s current predicament fortunately excludes child abusers and/or tanking stock values – it’s not exactly a rosy picture.

When it comes to discussing international student/staff university recruitment successfully, this London campus carries the burden to clarify issues involving the UKAB so that other UK colleges won’t endure a similar fate.  In a statement to the media, the campus administration made sure to note how, “London Met appreciates that as the first UK university to be placed in this position, [we have] a duty to the sector to try and bring an end to the damage arising from UKBA’s decision.”  Moreover since coming off a summer long media celebration involving Olympic preparation and a monarch’s Diamond Jubilee, it’s certainly understandable that the press openly welcome a new feature subject.

Courtesy of Hydromontage.com

In an effort to bring some relief and order to chaos, a task force with representatives from the academics’ union UCU, the UKBA, and the National Union of Students will help genuinely qualified international students enduring the investigation figure out alternative enrollment options and get back to their studies as quickly as possible.  A wise Englishman once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal.  It is the courage to continue that counts.”  It’s a good lesson to remember while waiting to re-enter the classroom, but until someone issues a logical verdict, LMU’s foreign students must try to keep calm and carry on.

Here’s hoping to a swift solution.

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