East Ham college fights threats to its future in streets

Protests outside the Old Town Hall in Stratford (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

Protests outside the Old Town Hall in Stratford (photo: Arnaud Stephenson) - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Teachers and students are battling on several fronts to keep their college open and have taken to the streets in protest.

Oxford College of London, Katherine Road, East Ham, has had its student visa licence suspended while the Home Office carries out an investigation – the details of which remain unclear.

The suspension means the college is unable to sponsor new overseas students, although it can continue to teach its existing 383 foreign students.

It is also faces scrutiny from Newham Council’s trading standards team, with planning enforcers claiming it doesn’t have permission to operate as an educational establishment.

But the college’s managing director, Qudsia Naeem, said it has been paying business rates to the council since it opened in 2007 and questioned why action was being taken now.

She claimed planning permission was granted by the council seven years ago although the section 106 agreement on which it hinged is yet to be confirmed, despite years of chasing.

More than 100 staff and students protested about the delay outside the Old Town Hall in Stratford on Thursday last week.

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“We made a planning application seven years ago and we received permission subject to an agreement,” Qudsia said.

“The agreement was promised each and every single week yet we have received nothing.”

A council spokesman said planning consent wasn’t granted as the council and the college were “unable to reach an agreement”.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Where we find evidence that sponsors are not fulfilling their duties we will suspend or remove their licence.”

The college offers a handful of diploma courses in business, travel and tourism, management and asset management.

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