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Academics to boycott new student immigration rules

“We believe these practices are discriminatory and distort academic freedoms”
15th April 2009: Academics have threatened to boycott the government’s new immigration rules for students, terming the orders that they monitor international students’ movements “discriminatory”.

In a letter to the Guardian, the 35 academics who are involved in research on the uses and abuses of state power, say “it is becoming increasingly apparent that members of staff in universities and colleges are being drawn into a role of policing immigration.”

They note that academic and administrative staff are for example “being asked to monitor the attendance of students at lectures and classes (whether compulsory or not), and we are being asked to check the ID of students and colleagues, while external examiners and visiting lecturers are also now being asked to provide passport details.”

The academics say: “We strongly oppose the imposition of such changes in the way that academic institutions are run. We believe these practices are discriminatory and distort academic freedoms. The implementation of UK immigration policies is not part of our contractual duties and we will play no part in practices which discriminate against students and staff in this way. We support our administrative colleagues in their refusal to engage in such practices. Thus we pledge to refuse to co-operate with university requests for us to provide details on our students or participate in investigations of those students.”

The academics have pledged “not to supply any personal details – such as passport or driving licence details – in our role as external examiners, and urge all of our colleagues across higher and further education to join this boycott.”

They’ve also said that they’ll forward motions to their respective union branches in support of this position. “A boycott would undermine immediately the system of external examining at all levels, which operates almost exclusively on the basis of goodwill, and thus strike a significant blow against both the pernicious drift of government policy, and university managements’ acquiescence to this,” the academics said.

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