Author Archives: Olivia

Academics facing pressures in policing their foreign students

160 academic institutions have recently protested about feeling under pressure to check the accountability of their foreign students.

The letter said, “British universities have been positioned as central culprits for failing to regulate their intake of foreign students”.

According to IPPR.org, the UK has been dubbed as the second most popular destination for international students. Student visas offer a way for immigrants to legally study at British universities and it has been found that they are increasing in popularity. This is found to be especially prominent in Chinese nationals.

Figure 1: Top ten nationalities issued study visas (excluding student visas), 2013

immigration-statistics5-q4-2013 - nationality numbers - Copy (2)

Source: Gov.uk

 

The Home Office is putting more pressure on academic institutions to police the details of immigrants who wish to study in the UK. Universities such as Oxford, Warwick, Durham and Sheffield have spoken up about feeling used as a continuation of the work that UK Border Police undertake.

The issue of immigration is currently one of the most hotly debated topics in the United Kingdom to date. It is also a widely known fact that immigrants come into the country for a ‘better life’. They believe that the UK offers better opportunities in the areas of education and work.

 

Objections against enforced policing

 

Mette Berg of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford University said, “We have a duty of care towards our students, and there is an issue about this undermining the trust between tutor and student”.

The objections that were included in the letter were that universities were being taken advantage of by the Home Office. This is because it has requested that universities use their pastoral care to monitor student attendance and meetings with tutors.

In the letter, universities have accused the Home Office of treating non-EU students differently from UK and EU students. Monitoring foreign student’s behaviour was another grievance that was mentioned. Universities have accused the Home Office of forcing academic institutions to monitor non-academic undertakings and reporting these findings to the Home Office.

 

Enforcing rules for foreigners wishing to study in the UK

 

In 1996, in Section 11 of the Local Government Act, a law was passed which stipulated that funds would be made available to meet the needs of immigrants who are currently residing in the UK. The law specifically mentioned that the funds will support people with different language or customs from that of the UK.

Despite this law, a Home Office spokesperson stated that the student visa application process was re-evaluated to be made more vigorous and less open to abuse.

There have been accusations made that immigrants have been taking advantage of the British law system. The NHS for instance, is a prime example. The Queen’s Speech in late 2013 stipulated the end of immigrants taking advantage of the service.

 

Academic institutions protest against being used

 

Universities pride themselves as independent institutions. Oxford, Warwick, Durham and Sheffield universities have accused the Home Office of “undermining the autonomy and academic freedom of UK universities and their students”.

The stronger enforcements introduced by the Home Office has been in response to London Metropolitan University’s misdemeanour. The university temporarily lost its sponsor status in 2012. The new changes have also been made in response to higher education institutions becoming increasingly dependent on foreign students. This is due to the fees that they provide British universities. In terms of the UK economy, immigrants currently contribute £13bn.

Nicola Pratt from Warwick University stated that, “It is a major concern that the government is targeting overseas students as a way of meeting immigration targets”. Pratt also said, “These students are investing a huge amount into the higher education system”.

Alice Sachrajda, a Research Fellow at IPPR stated that, “The reduction in foreign student numbers is being driven by the net migration target, which is designed to meet the public’s concern about high immigration”.

Large numbers of foreigners arriving in short periods of time has been seen as a valid policy objective by the government to diminish the number of immigrants entering the country. This is to reduce pressures on communities in the country.

 

Why foreign students are attracted to the UK

 

Immigrants are attracted to studying in the UK, as it offers “a better quality of education” according to Immigration Matters. Since 1966, the British government has been supporting the English as an Additional Language (EAL) scheme. In addition, the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG) was issued to educational authorities in the country. These laws have made coming to the UK a very attractive option for foreigners.

 

What the 160 academic institutions propose

The letter produced by the 160 academics requests the end of  institutional immigration checks. It asks for their non-EU students to be treated respectfully and equally. Universities UK has also been requested to speak out on behalf of British universities against monitoring foreign students.

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Rising numbers of immigrants want to gain an education in the UK

A recent study carried out by Gov.uk has shown that student visas are steadily increasing in number.

According to the study, student visa applications have risen by 4% in 2013, with 210,102 immigrants applying applying to study in the UK. This is of a similar number to 2012’s study, where 210,109 immigrants applied to study in the United Kingdom

The study has also shown that there has been a 7% rise in student visas in regards to the university sector.

Multi-culturism is increasing

These results indicate that multi-culturism is clearly on the rise in the UK. A study carried out by the Office of National Statistics has shown that London and the West Midlands are currently the most ethnically diverse hotspots in Britain. According to Immigration Matters, international students choose to study in the UK because there is a better quality of education available in the country.

The topic of immigration is mainly seen as having a strong negative impact on the UK and its economy. However, foreign students are attracted to studying in the UK because of the educational opportunities that it provides. The Gov.uk study has also shown that study related visas have been especially popular amongst Chinese with a 9% increase, Brazilian nationals with a 147% increase and Malaysian nationals with a 24% increase in visa issues.

 

 

Staggering increase in Chinese nationals who wish to study in the UK

Cross post: When it comes to the hostile environment, we really are all in this together

Kiri Kankhwende, a Special Projects and Development Manager at Media Diversified, kindly allowed Immigration and Services to repost her feature which was recently published on the Huffington Post website. Her feature talks about what is currently wrong with the issue of immigration and the wider effects on UK citizens and foreign students and workers in the UK.

When it comes to the hostile environment, we really are all in this together

One of the familiar gripes of those opposed to immigration is that we don’t talk about it; but if you’re a migrant, it feels like we do little else. Early February show on Channel 5, the Big British Immigration Row, sums up everything that’s wrong with the current discourse on immigration: lots of heat and very little light.

The lack of an informed debate means that a lot of issues that should get discussed and that affect everyone, not just migrants, get overlooked. Worse still, government efforts to create a “hostile environment” for irregular migrants risks driving a wedge of suspicion into communities and dragging a lot of ordinary people into a net of surveillance.

The touchstone of the strategy is the Immigration Bill, which is currently working its way through parliament. In addition to worrying provisions such as restricting access to appeals on immigration decisions, it seeks to restrict the access of irregular migrants to healthcare, private housing, bank accounts and driving licenses. What this means in practice is that ordinary people, for example landlords, will be required to act as border agents in order to conduct new checks on immigration documentation. In addition to the prospect of shutting irregular migrants out of housing and leaving them open to exploitation, this could lead to discrimination against migrants more generally too.

Another well-worn argument of those opposed to immigration is that race is no longer a factor to consider. But with the privatisation of immigration checks there is a real possibility that ethnic minority British citizens, who are more likely to be considered foreign, will also be discriminated against. To a certain extent that’s already happening – BBC’s Inside Out programme in October 2013 found routine discrimination against Black people by letting agents in the private rental market – a situation which will likely be exacerbated by the new regulations. Charities have raised these sorts of concerns since the Bill was first proposed, and the UN Refugee Agency has warned of the risk of creating a “climate of ethnic profiling.” Unlike employers, private landlords don’t have Human Resources departments to help them understand immigration documentation, so it’s down to their judgment and whether they consider renting to a migrant is worth the effort – no oversight, no checks and balances.

If you think this won’t affect you, it’s worth considering the implications on wider society of getting citizens to monitor one another. You may not be a landlord, employer or otherwise likely to be in a position to make immigration checks on another person, but you could still be affected. In order to avoid discrimination, efficiency and common sense suggests immigration checks for all. I remember the anti-ID card campaign under Labour – roundly rejected then by the majority of the public but now creeping in through the back door. I also remember my disappointment when I learned that the campaign against ID cards had succeeded, but that ID cards would be retained for categories of migrants. Once that was established, it was only a matter of time before it was rolled out into all categories of non-EU migration. So, how long until it is recommended for everyone else?

As much as politicians try to divide communities, it’s clear that when it comes to the unacceptable intrusion of immigration legislation into the private sphere, we really are all in it together. There are real concerns that people will be locked out of vital services. The nature of these changes have the potential to impact community relations, sowing the seeds for a climate of suspicion in which the assumption of criminality is the norm in such simple acts of everyday business such as opening a bank account or renting a house.

Even if you think the aims of the Bill are justified (and I for one do not), the impact will not only be felt by irregular migrants – though they are at the sharp end of this; the hostile environment will touch us all, and we have to ask if this is the sort of climate we all want to live in.

What you need to know about immigration and the effect on NHS services

By Olivia Brown-Wallace

We have pulled together the key facts as to how and why immigration is having a detrimental effect on NHS services. Foreigners have been accused of putting extra pressure on the services that the NHS provides. Immigration is one of the most controversial and discussed topics in society, as it has long ignited debates and feelings of anger, fear and mistrust.

Rising rates of disease

The rates of TB and HIV have dramatically risen and foreigners have been blamed for this increase. Moreover, translators who are required to assist foreigners in hospitals have put an extra strain on the national health service with these costly services.

In areas of the UK such as the East of England and Southampton, accident and emergency departments have been utilised by foreigners instead of local GP surgeries.

Paradoxically, the NHS relies on immigrants to keep its services running. Foreigners have positively influenced the economy by boosting it by £6 billion. Moreover, health chiefs insist that without those who work at the hospitals, the NHS would surely cease to be.

Dr Kailaish Chand, from the BMA, said: “The NHS is supported by hundreds of thousands immigrant doctors and workers … They bring a great deal of expertise and the country has not had to pay for their training.”

However the doctor added: “The rapid influx of immigrants is placing a great pressure on health services”.

No more free healthcare

The controversial speech made by the Queen in late 2013 is the result of the cumulation of problems that immigration has caused the UK’s national health service. To summarise, the speech outlined the end of free services for foreigners, as a tough legislation had been introduced to restrict immigrants access to the NHS’ services.

This new law has been introduced in the hopes that it will cause the number of foreigners entering the country to decrease and the ones who already live in it to leave.

The new law will request foreigners to demonstrate that they have the right to live in the UK and access to the UK’s health services. Students that are currently studying in the country will have to contribute to the health service by paying a tax.

These new measures demonstrate that the impact of immigration has been severe enough to warrant attention.