UCU joins call for boycott of immigration regulations

March 26, 2009

New rules requiring academics to monitor international students and report absences to immigration authorities may be boycotted at a London college.

The Goldsmiths College, University of London branch of the University and College Union (UCU) passed a motion calling on members to ignore new Home Office regulations that have been introduced under the UK's new points-based immigration system.

The UCU motion said the regulations would harm the relationship of trust between students and academics, as the rules treated international students like "potential suspects who have come to the UK with the specific goal of abusing the immigration system".

The motion, which followed a similar motion from the Students' Union, also raised concerns that reporting on overseas students would add to lecturers' workloads.

David Willetts, the Shadow Universities Secretary, also criticised the rising cost of visas to international students, which recently increased from £99 to £145.

This, coupled with the requirement for students to prove th*ey can cover a year's tuition fees plus £600 to £800 a month living expenses, could put applicants off, he said.

Meanwhile, Universities UK warned about government proposals for overseas students to pay an extra £50 levy towards the cost of the public services they use. Diana Warwick, its chief executive, said students contributed far more to the UK economy than they used in public services. "Our universities work hard to attract them and we are in serious danger of sending out a message that they are not welcome," she said.

There was further dissent from Simeon Underwood, registrar at the London School of Economics, which has a high proportion of students from abroad.

In evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee earlier this month, he raised concerns about a new IT system for processing student applications and records and its ability to cope with peaks in demand.

melanie.newman@tsleducation.com

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