The Tyson treatment

January 21, 2000

There is no doubt that immigration practice deters students and other academics from coming to Britain ("Foreign Office to scrutinise visa refusals", THES, January 14). The loss is not just in student fees but to the international strength of our intellectual community.

I hope the FO asks visiting students about their experiences. They will learn, for example, that young Asian women are commonly quizzed about whether they have a boyfriend in the United Kingdom. This is offensive, sexist and irrelevant to immigration rules. It is also unlawful to invade privacy under the new European Community/UK Human Rights Act. This is very pertinent in a week when we learn that immigration officers do not ask about a criminal record, which is relevant to the rules. For criminals who contribute to local business in Manchester, the rules can be ignored anyway.

Chris Williams Lecturer, international education Institute of Education

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