UK visa problems reported by universities

30 Sep 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Universities and higher education establishments are reporting substantial numbers of UK visa problems to officials in relation to their foreign students.

A Freedom of Information request put by the Manifesto Club campaign group found that academics are reporting more than 1,500 foreign students a month to UK immigration officials over suspicions concerning their visa.

Between March 2009 and August 2010 alone there were at least 27,121 migrants reported to the UK Border Agency(UKBA); a significant number of the 200,000 or more foreign students that come to study in the UK each year.

Josie Appleton, group director of the Manifesto Club, suggested that it is not the place of academics to be monitoring the immigration status of their students.

"Academics are not border agents, and they should not be dragooned into spying on their students,” she remarked.

"The UKBA now has rights of entry to any university campus, which is a major threat to academic autonomy. We call for a more proportionate system, which recognises the historic autonomy of the university."

The group, which campaigns against regulation in general, added that the strict UK visa controls introduced by the government are forcing academics to invade the privacy of their students. It believes that there is a strong risk these controls could damage the relationship between students and their teachers.

Earlier reports have revealed that changing the UK visa system for students and restricting the number of people that enter the country through this route could pose a significant risk to the British economy due to the fees and influence brought in by international students.

This is particularly pertinent in Scotland where the higher education sector is a major contributor to the country's economy.