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Katja Reinhardt, a student from Germany and WORLDbytes reporter, investigates the impact of the points based immigration system on international students. She hears from campaigners, students and professors who tell of scandalous stories of university staff being pushed to become border agents and maintain surveillance of overseas students; treating them as criminals.

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Related topics: Civil Liberties, Debates

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Vanessa said:

I think travelling, getting to know different cultures and intellectual communication with others is a very important part of education. For their personal development and horizon of experience every student should have the chance to study abroad in any country they like. The local students, as well as the teaching and research of their universities will benefit from these exchanges of ideas. Another worrying aspect is the increasing connection between money and education. To have the possibility to study abroad does not only depend on your nationality but is also dependent on your wealth background, and the wealth of your potential benefactors. This is a double injustice.

Roger said:

How outrageous, you have to pay a lot of money to come and study here and then you are treated just like a criminal where ‘officials’ (who used to be Professors) monitor your whereabouts, information about you is stored, professors have to report you..i mean report you..if you miss certain tutoring sessions. Les Back is right, it just makes no sense and James Hayward is dead right when he says it is a disgrace. I hope every university refuses to do this and are not afraid of the UK Borders Agency although learning that some universities have actually taken it even further than they need to and introduced the ‘uni-nanny’ tag system with radio frequency – like a lead for dogs – shocking. I think all three people interviewed put the case for campaigning against this and I hope people do.

Winnie said:

I really liked what Les said about not being able to think, imagine, have ideas, or learn in a climate of fear and distrust. He was also spot on about the system keeping the poor out – let’s face it such a large proportion of the population are just told that they have to stand still, who are being held back as Les put it. Katja obviously is passionate about this (I suppose that is why she produced this report) and like her I am also worried about an immigration system that sees some of us as deserving an education and some of us not. But, that is what you get with any immigration system – as it necessarily categorises people, puts people on a hierarchy. So we have to be against it all and not just fight for international students, or artists who can’t come in – we need to have freedom of movement for everybody. Glad to see others agree

Dan said:

This is another example of how the points based immigration system treats all immigrants as if they were guilty, and because, like Valerie says, this happens when you reduce politicsto a management exercise – managing to make sure there are no risks and that people are guilty forever.

Fiona said:

Not sure I agree with Tauras’s last point. I shall give you an example why, Valerie mentions ‘uni-nannies’ which several universities have set up where students are given tags, sometimes in the form of an ID card or even in the form of a band you have to wear. They clock you in and out and can be tracked. Now, in order to make sure the ‘same rules apply to all’ and basically meet the equality law they have made this for ALL students although it is actually about surveying international students. As someone said below, this has been happening to many migrants for a long time now, the fact that students have to pay to come, then pay the huge fees then get treated like criminals shows the society we live in. Open up, we need more people.

Tauras J said:

I think the main reason is that stress persists, when necessary to seek solutions and, one side seeking the ways to prevent possible criminal/terror activities and creating barriers. The question is: Does these barriers adequate for students? If someone studying already, then it should be more simplified. To get answer for this complicated question there is important to work out how many applicants want study? And does some surveys done, who is more suspicious than other? Does someone knows is it possible? Anyway, if you studying already this strong enough approval, that you should get enough freedom. The main point that the same rules should apply to all.

Lluisa said:

The pointless here is that the Universities can’t have the power for act as borders agencies. This role it have to be done for the state and the Universities should be focused in teach.
This is a problem that not only affect at the students but it is global. In all the times it has been human movements. It is a win-win situation; both earn the country that welcomes and the newcomers from culture and life experiences of the other.
The freedom of movement it is a human right. But in this world that is increasingly populated, is necessary to limit these movements? Who have to have the power to decide who can and who can not?

Andy H said:

There is a tension between the University wanting the ideal of international knowledge and the state’s treatment of students as immigrants. I think non-student immigrants have had to put up with criminalisation like this for years.

Ravi J said:

I think the important point in this programme is not just how badly international students are treated but what it says about UK education being closed down in scope although that seems to be happenning all the time with pretty rubbish standards as well as high fees. Not sure I’d want to pay so much to come here.

Sarah K said:

This is good and not talked about very often – like the title too as friends of mine couldn’t get into univ in the UK as they were the wrong types ie poor even if I sponsored them.

Tobias M said:

Why as international students are we being treated as criminals and bailing out UK unis? I think more students should make a fuss about this – or will that put our stay in question? UK students can go abroad and get a cheaper education now which doesn’t seem fair either.