Around 350 Indians are among more than 3,000 international students who face deportation from Britain after the government suddenly cracked down on a London university on Wednesday night, accusing it of approving visas for bogus students.
London Metropolitan University's power to approve visas for non-European students was revoked by the government's immigration department, which said a quarter of 101 students sampled in a random check were bogus.
But critics said the government was punishing genuine fee-paying foreign students, who bring in 12.5 billion pounds every year, with an ill-conceived and potentially ruinous move aimed at bringing down immigration.
Immigration minister Damien Green said the university was guilty on three counts: some students had overstayed their visas, others didn't have a "decent standard" of English and more than half weren't attending classes. As a result, all international students now have 60 days in which to find an alternative course, failing which they will be deported.
"We are really angry with the authorities and this drama," said Delhite Siddhartha Sharma, who enrolled in February for an MSc in software studies after paying up the annual fees of 9,000 pounds from a Punjab National Bank loan. "We don't know what to do - we are not from London. Why are we being penalised for others' faults?"
The larger issue
Educational institutions have to earn a Highly Trusted Sponsor status in order to be able to teach students from non-European Union nations. These institutions recommend applicants for visas after evaluating them.
There were around 261,000 non-European students in Britain this year. Surprisingly, they are allowed in purely on the basis of the sponsoring institution's recommendation - without anyone from the Border Agency conducting interviews.
This problem was first identified in December last year.