Letter on Home Office Regulations

Dear all,

You may be aware that a motion expressing our opposition to the new Home Office regulations on international students was passed overwhelmingly at our general meeting last week. The rules require staff to single out the attendance of international students in such a way as to undermine our relationship of trust with these students. We believe that the rules are discriminatory and will add to our workloads. Both the UCU, at a national level, and the Students Union at Goldsmiths are opposed to the new regulations. The full text of the motion is below but there are two important action points arising from it.

First, I have written to Philip Broadhead, Pro-Warden (Students and Development) asking him for precise details of how the College intends to implement the new rules.

Second, the motion asks members not to comply with the new rules until we have resolved any human rights or workload issues that may arise. I have therefore tabled this issue for next week’s Joint Negotiation and Consultation Committee and am also waiting on advice from the national
union.

In the meantime, if you are asked to provide data or to carry out tasks DIRECTLY related to the implementation of the new rules, I would advise you to ask your line manager or members of senior management the following questions in writing.

1. What steps have the College taken to ensure that staff implementing the new points-based immigration rules are not breaching UK equality legislation?

2. What assessment has been made by the College of the impact of implementing the new scheme on the workload of staff?

3. What discussion has taken place with the recognised trade unions about potential changes to staff contracts arising from the requirement to implement the scheme?

4. What risk assessment has taken place of the impact on the personal security of staff who are asked to monitor student attendance as part of the scheme?

If you do not feel that you are in a position to provide data that DIRECTLY assists the operation of the scheme without this information, I would advise you to request a delay while we obtain the necessary information.

best wishes
Des

Des Freedman
President Goldsmiths UCU
Goldsmiths, University of London
New Cross
London SE14 6NW

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Motion: New Home Office regulations (overwhelmingly carried, 12/2/09)

We wish to express our opposition to the new Home Office regulations, introduced under the new points-based system for immigration to the UK, that will require lecturers to monitor international students and to report any absences from seminars, lectures and tutorials, as well as any failure to submit assessment on time. We are opposed to these regulations for the following reasons.

First, they represent a possible breach of Article 8 (the right to privacy) and Article 3 (degrading treatment) of the European Convention of Human Rights and the 1998 Human Rights Act.

Second, such regulations will harm the relationship of trust between students and lecturers that is a vital aspect of doing our jobs which, fundamentally, should be helping students to learn. The regulations, in effect, treat international students as though  they are potential suspects who have come to the UK with the specific goal of abusing the immigration system. We feel that this is discriminatory as the Home Office regulations apply only to non-EU students. We also wish to point out that the existing procedures of applying for a student visa requires students to be accepted at an accredited UK institution and, as such, already address the concerns and bogus schools that apparently have motivated the new rules.

Third, the work involved in monitoring international students will add unnecessarily to our workloads, in addition to our regular teaching, administrative and pastoral duties.

Furthermore, we note the passing of a motion in 2008 by Goldsmiths Students Union encouraging staff not to comply with the new rules.

For these reasons, this meeting agrees

1. To affirm its opposition to the new Home Office regulations;

2. To request details of the specific plans the University is making  withregard to the implementation of these regulations;

3. To ask members not to commence implementation of these regulations until these details are made clear to members, and the human rights and workload issues are appropriately dealt with.