A government-led initiative asking universities to monitor, and accordingly report, the actions of international students to the Home Office is coming under heavy criticism from members of the academic community. A crackdown on student immigration scams by the government, academics say, will oblige universities to report students to immigration authorities based on factors such as attendance.
The rules also mean that non-EU students will have to be sponsored by their university, obtain ID cards and have their fingerprints taken. It will also be necessary for international students to prove that they are financially capable of raising £800 a month and also cover their tuition fees. Currently, international students inject £2.5bn into universities’ financial systems each year. If students miss more than ten teaching sessions, or fail to hand in coursework on time, lecturers will be obliged to report the situation.

“The university is being asked to act as an immigration officer”, wrote representatives from various academic bodies in an open letter. They state that it is “not the function of universities and alters the educational relationship between students and their teachers in a very harmful manner”. The letter, also undersigned by activist Tony Benn, is further concerned with the “discriminatory proposals” being applied to non-EU students only.

The academics and activists also claim that these measures may be in breach of the right to a private life and freedom from degrading treatment, articles 8 and 3 respectively of the European Convention on Human Rights. Approximately 300 phony colleges have been discovered in the past three years. A University Spokesperson told Impact: “The University will be doing all it can to minimise the impact on students and it is likely that the vast majority will not notice any difference under the new system.”

The Home Office stated to The Guardian: “Those who come to Britain must play by the rules and benefit the country. This new route for students will ensure we know exactly who is coming here to study and stamp out bogus colleges who facilitate the lawbreakers”.

Camille Herreman

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