Au Royaume-Uni, les autorités sont-elles en train « d’externaliser » leur boulot en demandant aux universités de surveiller les étudiants étrangers ?
Nick Megoran de l’université deNewcastle s’interroge :
My university introduced an attendance monitoring programme last September. My understanding is that this was a response to demands from the UK Border Agency that universities should be able to confirm that non-EU students on student visas are actually participating and attending, and concern that failure to demonstrate this could make it hard to grant visas. For my department this has involved a paper register passed round all lectures and seminars. This information is then collated by administrative staff.
The university is currently devising a strategy for the next academic year.
Elsewhere, How have your universities responded? Have you run registers of all students at all lectures, seminars? If not, what have you done? I for one would find this information useful as our university discusses how to move forwards.
And I am also interested in what resistance and critical reflection there has been. Has there been open debate, boycotts by staff or students, genuine consultation, etc? Has the data been used in other ways, for example passed to tutors for pastoral care to spot students in difficulty?
David Gibbs de l’université de Hull précise :
This is fairly common, here the University asks all students to sign in once a week, but doesn’t check the detail for each and every seminar/lecture etc. I’m not certain how this plays with overseas students, but can’t imagine that it exactly makes you feel very welcome! The University had a UKBA visit last year and I think this system passed their scrutiny, but only just.
Andrew Burridge de l’université de Durham :
It’s something that needs to be critically addressed (and resisted!), but that seems to have been largely ignored (though I hope there are examples to prove me wrong on this).
I found this article useful as background to what the UKBA expects:
Walter Nicholls de l’université d’Amsterdam :
So, academics in the UK are supposed to help play a role in enforcing national borders? What happens if a non-EU student drops from the program? Are you supposed to report them to the police? I think this sets a very bad precedence. It should be made an “issue” by critical members of staff.
Eric Nolund de l’université de Sheffield
At Sheffield the university set a certain number of ’contact points’ per semester and left it to individual departments to decide what they are and implement, then report back to the university. All students are monitored for this purpose, and the university administration sorts out who’s of interest to UKBA. This was in part due to concerns raised over singling out international students and student-teacher trust. There were lots of heated discussions in various quarters about every aspect of our being deputised by UKBA, but at the end of the day, no compliance in UKBA eyes, no international students at our institution.
Marijn Nieuwenhuis de l’université de Warwick
I do not think that it is purely a student issue, non-EU staff is also affected, e.g.:
Jon Swords de l’university de Northumbria :
It isn’t just UKBA who want attendance data.
I spent three hours last week in attendance meetings with students the university deemed to have not engaged enough (e.g. Missed two consecutive lectures on a module which is monitored). I followed up with our support team about the reasons for this regime, and they said it wasn’t just UKBA who wanted the data, the Students Loan Company wante it too. Supposedly they can stop payments if a studens fails to properly engage with their degree.
Siobhán McGrath de l’université de Lancaster :
We have also been told that as of this year we need to take attendance at all lectures and that this is explicitly because of UKBA compliance. I am very uncomfortable with this practice for a number of reasons, not least because of the logical conclusion of the practice - that someone might get deported based partially on the fact that I reported their non-attendance. And, yes, it sends the message that students should turn up in order to be ’counted’ rather than because they think they might learn something, which I find damaging.
Et enfin, Keith Spiller de l’Open University
I have done some tentative work on this and have found for the most pressing issue is for universities to maintain their ‘Trusted partner’ status with the UK border agency. Bogus colleges and not wanting to be the next London Met. haunt a lot of this. In fact, my questions to some university administration staff were met with a frosty reception – it could jeopardize the ‘trusted’ status I was told!
Of interest, to me at least, is the increasing pressure being applied to ‘watch’ students and others. Have a look the Prevent Strategy (2011) Universities, as well as City councils, schools, etc are encouraged to spot ‘risky’ behaviours and people. As mentioned by other contributors, this does put into question the pastoral role of teacher, tutors etc..
If interested, I did a postcast relating to this and asked postgrad students about their feelings of having to report and be watched.