We reported last week on a number of student immigration policy developments. The courts have been similarly active in considering during the recent months a number of cases concerning student immigration (Tier 4) issues.
R (on the application of Central College of London Limited) v the Secretary of State for the Home Department ("SSHD") concerned a perceived failure by the College to address sufficiently eight issues of concern which were identified by the UKBA. The College argued that the subsequent revocation of its Tier 4 sponsor licence was procedurally defective, disproportionate and that the option of downgrading the College to a B-rating should have been considered under the UKBA's April 2011 Tier 4 guidance. The court held that the UKBA's September 2011 guidance was correctly applied on the basis that the SSHD is entitled to change policy and guidance as to how discretion will be exercised in immigration matters and that this would apply to all pending applications and processes that have begun but are not decided. Revocation of the licence was therefore held to be within the UKBA's discretion.
On 4 May 2012, the courts considered an application for an injunction that would prohibit the UKBA from revoking the Manchester College of Higher Education's Tier 4 licence. The UKBA had refused to grant the College highly trusted sponsor ("HTS") status and restricted its CAS allowance. The parties had agreed previously that the UKBA would reconsider the College's application for HTS status and would not revoke its licence until the outcome of its decision was known, but the UKBA subsequently informed the College that its CAS allocation had been reduced to zero. The court held that the agreement not to revoke the College's licence until after completion of the review process did not also involve an undertaking not to interfere with the ability of the College to grant CASs during this time.
A decision in the case of R (on the application of CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine) Ltd v SSHD was also handed down recently (5 July 2012). The College was refused HTS status on the basis of its refusal rate exceeding 20% and failure to comply with its Tier 4 reporting duties. The court held that contrary to the arguments put forward by the College, there was no justification for the argument that the UKBA must be able to show the College had caused actual harm to immigration control in order to refuse HTS status. The College had also argued that three students should be removed from the figures, which would bring its refusal rate down to 16.2%. The court held, however, that although these students may have been granted leave on a later application, it did not follow that the original refusal was incorrect. The claim was dismissed.