College in Plaistow fails to overturn ban on non-EU students

A Plaistow college whose business was wrecked when the government banned it from sponsoring non-EU students’ entry into the UK has failed in a High Court challenge to the decision.

Westech College, which at the time of its last inspection catered exclusively for students from outside the EU, was investigated as part of a major immigration clampdown last summer.

That culminated in the UK Borders Agency’s decision to strip the college of its power to effectively grant non-EU students the right to come to the UK.

With every one of the college’s 155 enrolled students coming from outside the EU’s borders, the decision will have had a devastating effect.

In a High Court challenge, lawyers for the college argued that it was wrong to strip it of its right in relation to non-EU students, but today had their case - and a �248,000 damages claim - rejected by a top judge.

Mr Justice Silber told the court that the college had not initially provided the Home Office with all of the information it wanted in relation to the investigation.

And, when it did, some of it was wrong, detailing work placements by its students at care homes in Plymouth and Leyton, East London, when they had actually worked elsewhere.

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Lawyers for the college argued that it was wrong to first suspend its right to send letters conferring the right to study in the UK, and then to remove it altogether.

But the UKBA said the fact that the college did not know where some of its students were doing their placements meant they were not being properly monitored.

That meant there was a “real risk” that the students might “go missing”, take other jobs and become very difficult for the authorities to track down.

And the college itself had not secured proper planning permission to allow it to lawfully operate from its base in Ballam Street, Plaistow, lawyers told the court.

Mr Justice Silber said: “I conclude that UKBA was entitled to suspend the claimant, especially as there is no basis for challenging the factual basis of that decision, as it is clear that, first, the claimant was conducting its business in breach of planning permission, and second, the claimant had no idea where at least three of its students were doing their work experience and so it could not monitor them.”

He continued: “There was a very real risk that students could disappear or take on unauthorised employment if they were not properly monitored.

“These factors and the absence of planning permission entitled UKBA to terminate the claimant’s sponsorship.”