The idea that there is universal support in the sector for an insurance scheme to protect institutions from the fallout of UK Border Agency decisions is erroneous ("Insurance against UK Border raids 'essential'", 3 January).
Ministers may be keen to encourage Universities UK to make the case for a scheme, but the latter would pose more questions than it answered if institutions were banded according to supposed risk and differing rates were charged for international students. An insurance scheme would give the government the perfect excuse to wash its hands of any responsibility for the consequences of UKBA decisions. If the agency suspended or withdrew Highly Trusted status from another university, ministers would be very unlikely to establish and fund a task force, and the buck would be passed back to the institution and the insurers.
Universities are being required to act as extensions of the UKBA, and international students are being used to reduce migration counts before the next election. The arbitrary extension of out-of-country interviews announced by the Home Office can increase risks to Highly Trusted status only if students who have been issued with a conditional acceptance of study are then refused a visa. In these circumstances, there are few merits in the sector insuring against the risks of policies over which both it and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills appear to have so little influence and even less control.
Pam Tatlow, Chief executive, Million+
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