The Universities of Sunderland and Ulster have announced that their international students will be forced to confirm their attendance at lectures with a fingerprinting device.

It was revealed last year that over 100,000 foreign students were suspected to have used education as an excuse to get into the UK and are now working illegally. This revelation led to calls from the Home Office for UK universities to monitor the presence of international students.

The introduction of a fingerprinting systems means that each international student will be required to scan their fingerprint on a biometric scanning device when they arrive at lectures, or anything that is compulsory for them to attend. This data will then be collated and passed on to the Home Office.

It is a form of discrimination if international students are being treated differently from local students.

A fingerprinting system has sparked substantial debate as many international students claim that such a system is discriminatory.

Zhili Han, a second year International Relations student from China, told Impact that it was “absolutely wrong” to force international students to use fingerprinting devices at university.

He continued: “It is already difficult for international students to live and study alone, far away from their families, so they should be given more consideration. Encouraging them to mix with the local students and feel part of the community means they are less likely to leave the UK. It is a form of discrimination if international students are being treated differently from local students”.

Maggie Narenpithak, a first year English and History student from Thailand, echoed Han’s concerns, telling Impact that she felt insulted that international students were being treated in this way, and that it reflected a “mainly negative” view of international students held by the current British government.

Mike Dore, the Students’ Union (SU) Welfare Officer, however, confirmed that “We currently have heard nothing regarding any plans for UoN to implement this practice. As a Union we would be against any examples of discriminatory treatment to international students, and would have to question the reasoning behind this scheme.”

A University spokesperson confirmed that UoN was not currently looking to introduce biometric or fingerprinting requirements for international students.

Beth Rowland

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