Migrants' Rights Network

Universities face new immigration trouble

UK universities are currently leading the biggest strike in their history. Adding to that, they are facing some immigration troubles. 

Last week, the Times Higher Education reported that university departments may be required to conduct visa checks for any foreign visitor.

[An email] message from the University of York’s human resources compliance team asks staff to detail who their visitors are, where they are from and what they are doing in the UK – whether they are giving lectures, conducting research or attending meetings. 

The email, according to THE, says that the “visitors project” thus implemented by HR (which also asks the departments to document length of stay and payments) is aimed at “helping us reduce the university’s right to work and sponsorship risks.”

Universities would thus join the long list of ordinary institutions being turned into border guards under “hostile environment” government policies. 

Linked to this issue, two scholars at Durham University, along with their daughter, have recently been denied leave to remain by the Home Office because they had spent too much time abroad… working on projects linked to their academic duties.

As reported by the BBC, the couple, who have lived in the UK for 11 years, did humanitarian work in Mexico on behalf of the university. They were “helping families in Mexico develop a DNA database to find their loved ones who had disappeared – most likely victims of the country’s gang and drugs wars.”

The fact that the academics are being targeted “for doing their job,” as the BBC article put it, and that the “hostile environment” is reshaping university management practices, does not bode well for the UK’s higher education sector.  

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Fabien Cante

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