Swamped by red tape

January 3, 2013

I am sure that many in higher education identified with the UK Border Agency's recent administrative headaches ("'Illegal' students reports ignored", News in brief, 6 December), but that is where the commonality ends. As the London Metropolitan University affair demonstrated, universities do not have the luxury of acting on their visa responsibilities only "where resources permit" in the manner reported by John Vine, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, in his inspection of the Tier 4 system.

The story behind the figures - more than 150,000 notifications by sponsors on the sponsor management system ignored - is of hundreds of man-hours spent adhering to strict immigration regulations at great expense, so it is disappointing to hear that this correspondence was not acted upon.

Just when our global competitors - Australia, New Zealand and Canada, for example - are making their visa systems more user-friendly, the UK has added so much red tape that even those charged with overseeing the system cannot keep up. As a result, we are becoming less competitive just when the UK as a whole could do with the economic boost provided by a thriving education tourism industry.

It is only right that those who flout the visa rules are pursued, of course, but Vine's report says that once finally dealt with, much of the backlog related to changes of address and the like, issues that do not affect anyone's right to stay.

It is likely that the true number of "bogus" students was low and this is an important distinction to make: the majority of international students arrive here willing to study and leave when they are supposed to, having enriched British academia, diversified the experience of domestic students and contributed hugely to the economy. They should be welcomed with open arms.

James Pitman, Managing director, HE - UK and Europe, Study Group.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Technical Officer (Paramedic)

Staffordshire University

Professor in Marketing

Henley Business School

Lecturer or Senior Lecturer in Social Work

University Of The West Of Scotland

Research Service Manager

London School Of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (lshtm)
See all jobs

Most Commented

Daniel Mitchell illustration (29 June 2017)

Academics who think they can do the work of professional staff better than professional staff themselves are not showing the kind of respect they expect from others

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

As the pay of BBC on-air talent is revealed, one academic comes clean about his salary

Senior academics at Teesside University put at risk of redundancy as summer break gets under way