The licence of a major London-based university to admit Indian and other non-EU students has been revoked by Britain's immigration authorities citing "serious and systemic failings" on the part of the varsity, stranding hundreds of students.
With the next academic year starting shortly (September), plans of many Indian students preparing to travel to study at the London Metropolitan University were thrown into jeopardy, while current students will need to quickly make alternative plans.
"London Metropolitan University's licence to sponsor non-EU students has been revoked after it failed to address serious and systemic failings that were identified by the UK Border Agency six months ago," a UK Border Agency (UKBA) spokesman said.
A task force has been set up to help Indian and other non-EU students affected by the revocation, officials said.
The university has over 2,000 international students, including Indians.
Current Indian students who are in their second or third years of courses will need to transfer to another UK university to continue their courses.
If this is not possible, they will need to abandon their courses and return to India within 60 days, according to the rules.
The London Metropolitan University, which recruits heavily from India and has offices in New Delhi and Chennai, is the first British university to have its licence to admit non-EU students revoked under measures to curb student visa abuse.
Universities Minister David Willetts said: "It is important that genuine students who are affected through no fault of their own are offered prompt advice and help, including, if necessary, with finding other institutions at which to finish their studies".
"We are tonight asking HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) and Universities UK to lead a task force, which will include UKBA and the NUS, to work with London Metropolitan University to support affected students and enable them to continue their studies in the UK. The task force will start work immediately," he added.
"We have been working with them since then, but the latest audit revealed problems with 61 per cent of files randomly sampled," the UKBA spokesman said.
"Allowing London Metropolitan University to continue to sponsor and teach international students was not an option. These are problems with one university, not the whole sector. British universities are among the best in the world, and Britain remains a top class destination for top class international students," the spokesman said.
"We are doing everything possible, working with Universities UK, to assist genuine students that have been affected," he added.
Calls to the University's liason office in New Delhi were greeted with an automated message that the number could not be found.