Last week, more than 160 academics wrote to the Guardian to protest at being used as an extension of the UK border police, after universities came under more pressure to check the immigration details of students. In a letter published by the Guardian yesterday, academics expressed their concern that universities were being used as “proxy border police” and stated their belief that this was undermining the autonomy and academic freedom of UK universities and trust between academics and their students.” The letter calls for UK, EU and non-EU students to be treated and valued equally and calls for an end to the use of pastoral care as a “mechanism” for monitoring international students.
Home Office’s ‘Rigorous’ Immigration Checks Undermine Student’s Trust
The group of academics noted in their letter that since London Metropolitan University had its Tier 4 Sponsorship licence revoked in 2012 (and reinstated the following year), universities have been “preoccupied with managing accountability demanded by UK Visas and Immigration (formerly the UK Border Agency), and, in effect, have become its proxy.”
It seems that teachers are being asked to monitor student’s attendance at their institutions and in some cases, share emails with UKVI. This has led to Mette Berg, of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford University stating:
“We have a duty of care towards our students, and there is an issue about this undermining the trust between tutor and student. We are not there to be proxy border police.”
Academics Object to Home Office’s Rigorous Immigration Checks
- Use mechanisms of pastoral care, such as monitoring of student attendance and meetings with tutors, as mechanisms for monitoring non-EU students, or so-called Tier 4 visa holders, on behalf of UKVI.
- Treat UK/EU and non-EU students differently with regard to determining their ongoing academic standing.
- Construct and deploy systems of monitoring and surveillance such as biometric scanning systems and electronic signing-in mechanisms to single out non-EU students.
- Agree to monitor behaviours that may be unrelated to academic endeavour, and allow this data to be used by UKVI in determining the supposed legitimacy of non-EU students.
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