A Government decision that could see more than 2,000 foreign students being deported was today met with outrage by MPs and academics.
Anger erupted after the London Metropolitan University had its right to sponsor visas revoked after
He claimed that a quarter of students there did not have permission to stay in the country and many had a poor grasp of English.
'Any one of those breaches would be serious,' he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
'We found all three of those breaches at London Metropolitan.
'What we found here is a serious systemic failure where it appears that the university doesn’t have the capacity to be a proper sponsor and to have confidence that the students coming have the right to be here in the first place.
'I’m not chucking anyone out, we have actually set up a task force to make sure genuine students can stay in the country.'
However, Labour MP Keith Vaz, who chairs the influential Home Affairs Select Committee, accused the Mr Green of keeping students in limbo and damaging Britain's reputation as a top destination for overseas scholars.
The move to revoke LMU's Highly Trusted Status (HTS) means more than 2,000 students being deported within 60 days unless they can find another sponsor, according to the National Union of Students.
'It has left thousands of students in limbo and I am afraid it may damage the reputation of this country as the best place in the world for overseas students.
'It has left thousands of students in limbo and I am afraid it may damage the reputation of this country as the best place in the world for overseas students'Keith Vaz, Chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee
'Just when we are welcoming thousands of overseas visitors for the Olympics, at the same time we are saying to thousands of overseas students who have paid a small fortune to come to Britain in good faith that they can no longer study at this university.
'I do feel sorry for these students.'
In condemning the decision, Mr Vaz was joined by a host of senior academics and student leaders.
Professor Eric Thomas, president of Universities UK, said there were other ways to address UKBA’s concerns and the university’s licence should only have been revoked as a last resort.
'The UKBA’s decision relates to the administrative requirements placed on universities by the UKBA in order to gain and retain highly trusted sponsor status,' he said.
'The UKBA’s decision to revoke London Metropolitan University’s licence will cause anxiety and distress to those many legitimate international students currently studying at London Metropolitan, and their families.
'We believe that there were alternative ways of addressing UKBA’s concerns, and that revocation of a university’s licence should only be a decision of last resort.
'What we found here is a serious systemic failure where it appears that the university doesn’t have the capacity to be a proper sponsor and to have confidence that the students coming have the right to be here in the first place'Immigration Minister Damian Green
He added: 'Our first priority is to support the international students affected by this action to ensure that, wherever possible, they can stay in the UK and continue their studies.'
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: 'No matter how this is dressed up, the damaging message that the UK deports foreign students studying at UK universities will reach all corners of the globe.
'Foreign students bring in billions of pounds every year, but the benefits are not merely financial.
'UK students profit enormously from exchange programmes with foreign universities and also through mixing with, and working alongside, students studying here.
'The last thing we can afford to do is send a message that international students are no longer welcome here.
'Yet government efforts to impress a domestic audience by sounding tough on immigration, coupled with the chaotic handling of this affair, risk doing exactly that.'
The NUS today contacted Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May to ‘express anger at the way that decisions have been made in recent weeks and to reiterate the potentially catastrophic effects on higher education as a £12.5 billion per year export industry for the UK’.
NUS president Liam Burns said: ‘It is disgusting that international students continue to be used as a political football by politicians who seem either incapable of understanding, or are simply uncaring about the impact of their decisions on individuals, universities and the UK economy.
‘This decision will create panic and potential heartbreak for students not just at London Met but also all around the country.
‘Politicians need to realise that a continued attitude of suspicion towards international students could endanger the continuation of higher education as a successful export industry.
‘This heavy-handed decision makes no sense for students, no sense for institutions and no sense for the country.
‘This situation and the botched process by which the decision was arrived at could be avoided if international students were not included in statistics of permanent migrants.’
Yesterday, the Home Office made the decision to revoke its licence.
A statement posted on the university's website last night read: ‘The implications of the revocation are hugely significant and far-reaching, and the university has already started to deal with these.
‘It will be working very closely with the UKBA, Higher Education Funding Council for England, the NUS (the National Voice of Students) and its own Students' Union.
An NUS survey carried out earlier this year after changes to international student policies found that 40 per cent of foreign students would not recommend Britain as a study destination.
The advocacy group also said that in recent weeks they had heard from an increased amount of students who now feel unwelcome in the UK.