More Than My Jobsworth

Damian Green - chief jobsworth

With the rightful criticism of Michael Gove influencing the exam boards and their unfair treatment of British students,what is happening to overseas students at London Metropolitan University (LMU) could easily be missed. That would be a shame as it involves equally unfair treatment, albeit of a much smaller number of students. Being from outside of Britain these students and their parents have very little pressure to bring to bear on the Tory ministers.

So although I could argue that the immigration department of the Home Office is wrong in its overall treatment of foreign students and wrong in expecting public universities to enforce immigration policy for them; for the sake of simplifying the argument let’s accept the charges that Damian Green’s people have made against the LMU.

Now the claim leaked by the immigration department is that 25% of LMU’s existing overseas students are breaking the rules and the university administration has done nothing to stop this state affairs. To punish the university their license to teach overseas students has now been withdrawn. Great, but exactly who has the Damian Green punished?

I’m sure there are some embarrassed university administrators who may even possibly find this charge hanging over their heads in their future career paths. The university says it will lose £30 million by the loss of the license. Now if the university was just bricks and mortar or a private company, we could say, OK they deserve that.

But the LMU isn’t just bricks and mortar, and it isn’t a private company. It’s sum of all the teachers and students attending it. The loss of money will obviously hurt the remaining British students, but far worse is the effects on the present overseas students and those expecting to join LMU this year. Now these students have a very limited amount of time to find new universities to continue their studies.

Why couldn’t the jobsworths at immigration have gone to LMU this month and identified the supposed 25% of students breaking the rules? If they were so sure of the 25% figure why couldn’t they identify them? Why shouldn’t the other 75% of good students, (by immigration department reckoning), be allowed to finish their degrees?

If the government truly believes that the problems are down to bad administration why hasn’t the University minister, David Willetts, attempted to change out the people they feel are guilty.

Showing that spin is still the answer under the this present government, we get the leaks. Many of LMU’s overseas students have poor English language skills. Well that’s because English is not their mother tongue jobsworths. I’m sure many of the foreign kids at Eton have poor English language skills too. We should hope that by the end of their studies, their skills are much improved. We could also ask the jobsworths in immigration and the Tory front  bench how good their skills are in a second language.

The logic of the attack on LMU’s overseas students and the university itself doesn’t make a lot of sense and certainly the innocent are being punished and Britain’s reputation abroad will take a dive. So why should Cameron and Osborne allow this to happen. Why don’t they call in Theresa May and tell her to sort it out.

Could it possibly be an ideologically driven action rather than being driven either by logic or common sense? Is it the failing cap the Tories have put on immigration numbers that’s driving it. So many experts have already told the government not to include students in the immigration cap as they are important to education institutions income? Haven’t we learned by now the dangers of targets?

Is it being one Britain’s worse performing universities that causes the immigration department action and lack of reaction by Willetts? Of course it is the university of the poorest, and I guess this also counts for overseas students, which possibly causes the higher dropout rate. So the government stops the EMA to reduce the flow of poor students into university and then goes after those that still make it. And all this in the district where last summer’s riots started.

To me a student, British or overseas, who makes it through to an LMU degree is worth 50 who take the Eton to Oxford path. Shame on you Damian Green. Weren’t you the man arrested for internet grooming just a few years ago? Shame on you Cameron. Where did that big society go? Did it go with Hilton to the US?

Added on the 7th September

Still more spin and leaks coming from the government rather than facts, but one number that may make their case even worse is that the number of overseas students due to receive letters from the immigration department is now given as 2,600. If the leak of 25% has any truth to it, and it could as easily be 10% or 50%, then we are saying 1,950 innocent students are caught up in this piece of government propaganda.

Added on the 14th September

What a difference a week makes.

Unfortunately not for the almost two thousand innocent (figure from government leaks) students at LMU. Damian Green is promoted as a sop to the right and his replacement, Mark Harper, best known for being rescued from a public meeting by the police for defending the Cameron government’s attempt to sell off public forests, lets David Willetts back into the decision making process. Now we hear that students may be removed from the government immigration caps and such. Also it’s rumoured the government will put aside £2 million to help the LMU students affected. It makes it look even more just a cynical attempt at spin and propaganda using immigration fears.

Still here’s an interesting quote from today’s <i>Independent.</i>

Professor Eric Thomas, vice-chancellor of Bristol University and president of Universities UK, told his body’s annual conference at Keele University: “Let us all ponder on how we would have reacted if that had happened to our sons and daughters in a foreign country.”

Added on the 22nd September

Another week goes by and fairness wins out.

LMU received a stay of execution from the courts yesterday. It was interesting as the judge, Mr. Justice Irwin, agreed to protect some of the threatened students based on an argument of fairness. Also interesting that the Home Office is beginning to back down on its original hard-nosed, and unfair, attitude.

Here is a quote on the BBC website made by an LMU lawyer.

At the High Court in London, Richard Gordon for London Met had said the issue “came down to fairness”.

Here are two quotes from today’s Guardian.

Irwin said he was moving to protect students from outside the European Economic Association area who were already in Britain and whose immigration status was in order. The temporary order covers more than 1,000 students already on LMU courses or who are starting on Monday, but many remain unhappy at their treatment.


The judge also ordered that those who had decided to transfer to other universities should not lose out financially. The Home Office has already said it would allow a further group of 400 students to complete their courses. The exact number reprieved was not clear on Friday night as the details were still being negotiated.

Links to the latest news:

The Guardian



  • Anonymous

    You say the loss of £30 million will hurt the other students. The implication is that LMU shouldn’t lose the money. But if they are breaking the rules shouldn’t the university be punished? And the only way is either a fine or loss of income. If the university was responsible for a major Health and Safety violation and had a £30 million fine imposed, that equally would affect the students. Would you accept that or must we let failing institutions do as they will because of unspecified harm to those who work or study there. And if so couldn’t we make the same case that the £250 million fine on Barclays for LIBOR fixing should not be leaved as it might affect those who work there?
    I agree that the government’s cap on immigration is foolish and it would be better to exclude students from it (we should follow the US and report foreign student numbers separate from other immigration). But that is democracy. It is clear the public wants much reduced immigration, even though that is not in their economic best interests.

    There is clear evidence that there is abuse of student visas, and some institutions collude to a lesser or greater extent because of the extra revenue foreign students bring in over local or EU ones. This abuse should be tackled and that will mean intuitions are closed down or punished with regrettable effects on their honest students and staff. But that is the same with banks or other companies and organisations that break the law. We should not make special cases, especially for, as you admit, one of the UK’s worst performing universities. IMHO the students would be much better off at decent college, though unlike you, I don’t set myself up as arbiter of the worth of degrees. I leave that to the market.

    • LesAbbey

      So DC, still working with the leaked numbers, the 75% of the 2,000 overseas students who are innocent become what? Collateral damage to a government ideologically driven action?

      To compare a state university to a private or public company, in your case you use Barclays, doesn’t really make sense. In this case it is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Both the immigration and university affairs are run out of the same, albeit different departments, government.

      As I said in the post, I wasn’t going to argue the rights or wrongs of the LMU administration, because even if we accepted the whole of the government’s complaint against them, the action they took was basically unfair in punishing the innocent along with the guilty. There were other ways they could solve the problem even if those other ways wouldn’t have suited their spin quite as well.

      I wonder how the hundreds of small British businesses whose purpose is to recruit overseas students along with the ‘help’ of the government feel about this?

      • Anonymous

        Just have to wait now until the court case, see what all the fuss is about.

        • LesAbbey

          Hello Robert

          I’m afraid it will be all too late by the time a court makes a decision. I suspect that’s why Damian Green left it until late August to make public the punishment, although of course they leaked it to the press weeks before.

          Haven’t seen you LL recently. Are you banned?

          • Anonymous


          • Daniel Speight

            Shame on them.

          • Anonymous

            I think I’ve been asking for it for a while.

      • Anonymous


        My point is that any punishment for failing institutions will cause some harm to those who use it. If the LMU broke the rules should it not be punished? Just as fining or imprisoning a parent who has committed a crime causes harm to their innocent children. Yet I presume you accept we should still punish parents who seriously break the law? Yes the 75% of legit foreign students will suffer. Sad but then there is an element of moral hazard. Don’t enrol in a dodgy institution – Caveat Emptor!

        We can not protect all people from the actions of others. It is impossible to wrap the world in cotton wool and the effect would be to infantalise society even more. Where would you end. Would you prevent adultery since the innocent wife or husband is harmed?

        As to the idea that all government should be seemless, with every department knowing what the other is doing. Then that is just impossible. The government is a hugely complex thing, currently nearly half the economy. There is no way that the vast amount of information that generates can be processed in a meaningful way. Certainly not by human beings, no matter how clever. The impossibility of government having all necessary information is why Hayek argued against central planning and for the market. This is why I’m a free market liberal and the major intellectual failing of the left. Your side think it is possible to have an all knowing government. My side know it isn’t. Or to put it another way, The Left in power believe that government can solve all ills, the Right in power show it can’t.

        On a separate point – Why can’t you compare a university to a public company? They are both complex organisations with a legal personality, employing staff and occupying property to provide a service. There are private universities. Is their some magical difference that occurs when something is funded by the government? That kind of thinking leads to abuse by those in power. Left wing does not mean a higher moral standard as we found out from 1997-2010.

        • LesAbbey

          Yet I presume you accept we should still punish parents who seriously break the law?

          DC that’s a good example. Of course the parents go to prison but we don’t then send the children there also.

          It’s not as though there was no other choice. ‘If’ they were guilty then the administrators should be punished by losing their jobs or whatever. The overseas kids that had already paid and are in the middle of their studies could have been allowed to continue if they hadn’t broken the rules. Either the immigration had the proof of rule breaking or they didn’t. If they had why not use that data to punish the guilty. If they didn’t have the proof it behooves them to find it first.

          In Britain we do have that marvelous idea of innocence until proven guilty. The LMU case seems to point to much more underhand, nasty strain that runs through our political class. Maybe it’s to show that ‘butchness’ that Cameron seems to think he needs.

          The truth is that the overseas students at LMU have no political constituency in British politics. Because those at LMU will not be from the top end of overseas societies they have little influence with the foreign office either. Who better for Damian Green to pick on to show government toughness on immigration, even though anyone looking into immigration problems, such as yourself, will know that overseas students are not a major cause of such problems.

          So let me restate, what the government is doing in this case is dishonest. It brings shame on them, and it brings shame on Britain overseas. Our reputation of fairness again takes a blow.

          • Anonymous

            It would be extremely complex to prove which individuals were responsible, even if the LMU cooperated, which it might not. Do you think Barclays should have been spared the fine over LIBOR and the individuals responsible punished instead? What about any court cases for those who lost out in LIBOR fixing. Should they only be able to sue those individuals? What about Hatfield, should we just punish the guys who failed to fix the point rather than Jarvis? The fact is in law we have corporate responsibility. In a perfect world perhaps we would only punish the actual individuals but as I said above, we don’t have perfect information so we do the best we can. Otherwise I can imagine the police interviewing Admin – “Jim says Tim did it, Tim says Jim did it, we have no evidence which one did so we have to drop the whole case”. If there were fraudulent visas issued by the LMU then we can prove that. Proving who in the LMU did is much harder. So basically you are arguing they get off scot free even if guilty. Whereas this way you can be pretty sure LMU will discipline Tim and Jim and the senior management will take a hit too.

            You make out that these students are victims of some terrible punishment and no one wants them. It is so obvious that I didn’t make the point before but they are very valuable to universities, paying far more than home students. The legit ones will find no problem getting places in competitor universities. At worst they will have a year long hiatus in their studies. As I said, they have a duty to pick an honest university and if the LMU is guilty, they picked poorly.

            The value of foreign students means it is in universities interests to be slack on visas. If foreign students are honest they bring in more money in fees, if they disappear once in the UK then the university has had the tuition fee plus the bonus of not having to pay for their teaching. That incentive suggests there will be universities that have tried to game the system. This public punishment of LMU will have the effect of reminding the other institutions not to sail too close to the wind. “Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres” Perhaps LMU should be renamed Byng University to nail the point home.

            You have no evidence to say what the government is doing is dishonest. Perhaps it is but I’d prefer to wait for the court case.

            Btw, a kid who has their father or mother taken away from home for several years is suffering harm, despite not being locked up. They will be being punished for what their parent did. Children need both parents while they are growing up and if you can’t see that and hence my comparison then sorry.

  • Andy Williams

    Somebody or some organisation is ultimately responsible for ensuring that those students are legally entitled to be at that university. Either the Immigration, or the Education Department or the University itself – but someone somewhere is responsible and it is that department that should be punished.

    • Anonymous

      Unvesities in Wales seem to have had problems as well, and the problem is again money, why bother teaching when you get the money and the student does not turn up, it seems in Wales degrees have been sold.

      • LesAbbey

        Thing is Andy and Robert, they just don’t care if in making a point over immigration and university responsibilities they punish innocents. It helps them of course that these innocents are foreigners and have no political representation in Britain. Even if LMU’s administration is guilty, punish them, not students in the middle of their degree courses. It’s about fairness.

        • Anonymous

          I changed my views over the last few years, for example I’m going through my WCA medical now.

          The form says I should send as much evidence as possible and I’ve got three weeks to do it, I phoned up my GP he says yes £500. I phone up my consultant £1400. Both state that they would be unable to see me for six weeks, I need it now within three weeks.

          Fairness is not the way political parties work, whether you or I think that these student should be treated fairly, if you want that I suggest these people head for America or India Universities.

  • Anonymous

    If the jobsworths at LMU had done their job there wouldn’t be a problem.
    Clearly they are either incompetent or just thought they would ignore the regulations.
    Now they have been caught out they try to blame everyone except themselves.

    • Anonymous
    • LesAbbey

      So John for the sake of argument let’s say that’s true. Why not punish the administrators? Again for the sake of argument, if there were a quarter of the foreign students breaking the rules then punish them also. Why is it necessary to punish the innocent students? it’s not really an example of British fair play is it?

      • Anonymous

        Because like the sick the disabled immigrants and immigrants student seem to be on the bad books these days, good piece from labour about welfare here. interesting when a Sixteen year old can write like Tony Blair.

        • LesAbbey

          It’s rather sad Robert that Labour youth write like old Daily Mail readers.

      • Anonymous

        The reason you aren’t persuading people here Les is that the idea of punishing the administrators is too complex to achieve. If we just sacked the administration team out of hand they would take the University to court and win big compo (like Sharon Shoesmith did when Ed Balls sacked her). Mass sackings aren’t ‘fair play’ either. To get the evidence to legitimately sack individuals would cost thousands in investigation and police time and might not succeed. So no one would get punished – some deterrent to other institutions.

        What you should have suggested is that the LMU lose its licence to issue new visas and let existing students continue while the UKBA charges the university the cost of investigating the validity of their visas. But you didn’t, you just whined while trying to make everyone a victim.

        • LesAbbey

          Whined DC? Back to your old tricks I see. Shame you seem unable to keep an argument polite. Still I guess everyone online needs a stalker and you must be mine;-)

          I suspect that when you say what I (LesAbbey) should have suggested, you really mean what you (DC) suggest. But that suggestion would certainly be a starting point in an attempt at fairness if those foreign students already taking a course at LMU would be able to continue their studies while any miscreants were investigated.

          I’m not sure if again in the cause of fairness the university should be charged for the cost of an investigation as this is not usual British practice.

          • Anonymous

            Everyone’s a victim, even you. I’ve victimised you by suggesting you ‘whined’. Yet you are so without blame that you felt happy to imply in your OP that Damian Green is a paedo (What else am I meant to take from “Shame on you Damian Green. Weren’t you the man arrested for internet grooming just a few years ago?” You know that term is only really used in one context, even though in Green’s case it was persuading a whistle-blower to leak documents, not kiddy fiddling). Is that polite or just nasty?
            So get off your high horse. This isn’t the LesAbbey Appreciation Society.

          • LesAbbey

            Actually DC the term grooming was used at the time of the police inquiry and I didn’t make an implication of Green’s sexual preferences.

            I see you still don’t wish make any valid arguments. So how long will I have you as my personal stalker DC? Are you with me for life ha-ha?

            Still I’m happy today as Mr. Justice Irwin has found in favour of the innocent students accepting an argument based on fairness to them.

            We do have a rather British idea of fairness and fair play. It may have been downgraded in recent years, but it’s pleasant to see some still believe in it. I think it’s why it would be hard to imagine death camps being set in Britain like those of the holocaust in Germany. (Yes I do know of the Boer War concentration camps but I would argue these were not set up for ethnic cleansing even if the results were so disastrous.)

          • Anonymous

            So you didn’t make any implication of Green’s sexual preferences? So why did you repeat the police term ‘internet grooming’ (which caused such offence at the time) when you knew the use of that term 99.9% of the time is for paedos and the 2008 Home Office leak investigation has no relevance to the LMU issue? No link; so why mention it unless you wanted to slur him?

            I only point this out since you make such a fetish of ‘fair play’ and then you come out with this nasty piece of insinuation and don’t even have the guts to admit it. Making an implication someone is a paedo is incredibly low, even for your worst enemy. It certainly isn’t ‘fair play’. Even on the actual hacking case you should apply British fair play and remember people are innocent until proven guilty. The case against Green was dropped and the Home Office concluded the police actions in relation to Green were ‘not proportionate’. Repeating the police ‘internet grooming’ claims is like repeating the South Yorkshire Police allegations that Liverpool fans robbed the dead at Hillsborough. Its low and nasty and untrue. You fail to reach the standards you hold others to and are too pathetic to admit it

            Either you are a fool or a knave. I think you knew what you were doing and are too cowardly or too ashamed to admit it. If you want to insult and slur people then do so straight forwardly and don’t complain about mild insults in return. Or if you are such a delicate flower than you don’t want to hear any impoliteness, don’t dish it out. You are the one in the gutter Mr Abbey, not me and not Damian Green.

          • LesAbbey

            Well I’m happy to hear both you and Damian Green are not in the gutter DC. Seeing that you can’t come up with any more arguments on the fairness or unfairness of the treatment of LMU students, but would rather talk about my unfairness to your good self and Damian Green, I think I will yet again refrain from answering your comments.

            I had hoped that after my prolonged break from posting you would have become more civil and possibly less like my personal internet stalker, but there you go, a forlorn hope yet again. Does this all really go back to being forced to apologise those so many years ago on Labourhome? Maybe I should go back to calling you Devongirl again,just to bring back those good old times.

          • Anonymous

            Hey, I’d take Devongirl. Just show you are a misogynist as well as being a holier than thou slanderer. Beats PeadoAbbey which is what you’ll be.

            I understand, you got all worked up about the injustice of the LMU thing, you wrote something nasty that you can’t justify. In retrospect you regret it but you’ve walked yourself up a hill and can’t admit it. At least Andrew Mitchell says sorry. He’s a better man than you are.

            As I’ve pointed out before, I’ve been posting on LabourHome for longer than you so a bit rich to claim I’m stalking you. But a self important sense of victimisation is your bag.

          • LesAbbey

            Bye-bye DC