Four students at Newark’s world-renowned violin-making school face deportation from the UK.
Lingtzu Chen and Meng-Hsiu Tsai, from Taiwan, Daniel Chick, from Australia, and Yasuhiro Nakashima, from Japan, are due to be deported after July 31 because their international visas have been cancelled by the Home Office.
The students, who are midway through their courses at the Newark School of Violin-Making and Repair, will have to leave the UK unless they can find a new sponsor for their visas within the education sector.
A petition which urges the Home Office not to deport the four students has gained more than 1,500 signatures in two days.
The school is part of the Lincoln College Group, which is no longer allowed to sponsor their international student visas after being rated as requiring improvement by Ofsted in August last year.
The four students are affected because diplomas from the violin-making school do not have wider educational recognition from Ofsted, despite the fact they are regarded around the world as a benchmark of professional quality.
There are fears the situation could damage the Newark school’s reputation as a world leader in its field.
The Lincoln College Group said the students would be given accreditation for the years they had completed, and offered compensation and a deferred place at a discounted rate when the college was again allowed to sponsor visas — known as tier four status.
'I would have to go home'
Lingtzu Chen, of Appletongate, Newark, has contacted Newark MP Mr Robert Jenrick to enlist his support for the students to remain.
“If I can’t stay here I would have to go home,” she said.
“If I can’t finish this course I can’t get the diploma.
“It is like I didn’t do anything and it is two years wasted.
“When I came here I trusted the school and the Government and now it is just not happening for me.”
Lingtzu said she chose Newark over schools in Italy and America because of its reputation.
“I can’t do another course. I don’t have any more money for another school,” she said.
The school has around 80 students, most of whom are from the UK or EU and have an automatic right to learn in the UK.
The Government tightened regulations on international students two years ago as part of a crackdown on bogus universities and colleges being used for illegal immigration purposes.
'It is unfair on the students'
A third-year student at the Newark school, Ruth Robertson, 63, has contacted Baroness Wolf, a cross-bench member of the House of Lords who has an interest in education policy.
Ruth said: “These students are victims of regulations that were supposed to crack down on something completely different.
“Everyone knows the school and with a qualification from here you can go and work anywhere in the world.
“Someone needs to speak to the Home Office, make them see reason and get them to make an exception in this unusual situation.
“It is unfair on the students and unfair on the school as a whole.
“I am concerned that in the future all students that come from overseas will be international students, because we will be out of the EU, and they will be worried about coming here.
“The students bring in money to the town because they rent places here and spend money here. They also pay more in fees because they are international students.”
The Newark school is part of the The School of Musical Instrument Crafts at Lincoln College.
Tier Four Status issue
A college spokesman said: “The School of Musical Instrument Crafts is unable to accept new overseas students until such time that it regains its Tier Four Status.
“A strong focus on further improving education should mean an Ofsted ‘good’ grade when it is likely to be re-inspected in the spring. This will lead to it regaining its tier four status.
“As a result of these developments four overseas musical instrument crafts students will not be able to stay in the country to complete further studies.
“All will be given full accreditation certificates for the years they have completed, made an offer of compensation and be offered guaranteed deferred places at a significantly discounted rate when we regain our status.
“We are also exploring alternative UK training providers who could help them complete their studies.
“We are continuing to develop and invest in The School of Musical Instrument Crafts and we are working with Hull University to validate a degree-level course.”
The Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases.