Friday, 25 February 2011

LSE and LSE Student Union Voice Opposition to New Student Visa Regulations

Proposed visa restrictions would deter potential LSE students

The London School of Economics and Political Science and LSE Students’ Union fear that proposed new visa regulations could deter significant numbers of international students from studying at the School.

LSE has surveyed all its overseas students (from outside the UK and the EU) to gather views on the recent UK Border Agency's consultation on changes to the student immigration system. As well as giving the School statistical information, the survey allowed students to record their feelings and comments on the proposals. One Indian student warned, "The cancellation of PSW [Post Study Work] will drastically reduce the number of overseas students who come to the UK for studies." A Chinese student reported feeling a responsibility to "inform my peers in my home country to consider their choices to study in the UK..."

The Agency wants to limit further the ability of students to work for a short period after studying and reduce the ability of students to bring in dependents while they are studying. It also plans various other restrictions designed to reduce the number of people coming into the UK using a student visa, including by increasing the standard of English required to come into the country. It is the first two proposals that particularly alarm overseas students at LSE, although the School is concerned to ensure that students undertaking an English course prior to taking up their place at LSE are not deterred.

Nearly 40 per cent of LSE's 4,723 international students responded to the survey. For 56 per cent of them, the temporary entitlement to post-study work was a factor in their decision to study in the UK.

Simeon Underwood, academic registrar at LSE, said,

"LSE attracts the best students from across the world and faces fierce competition particularly from the Ivy League universities in the United States. Our survey shows deep dissatisfaction amongst our overseas student body at the new proposals -- many have made it clear that they would not have applied under the new rules, and some have even said that they will discourage others from doing so."
Commenting on the effect this would have on the LSE student experience, Michael Lok, International Students' Officer at LSE Students’ Union, said,

"The proposed visa changes are likely to have a broad effect on the composition and ethos of the LSE student body, and will ultimately effect the overall university experience for both home and overseas students. The LSESU is working closely with the School on this issue, as well as with other students' unions to ensure that the concerns of all students, both home and international, are taken into account by the government."

The strength of feeling about the new proposals is also evident from the comments by students who responded to the LSE survey. For example:
"[PSW] is one important reason that I chose to study in UK rather than the States, Canada, or Australia." -- Chinese student
I see no point in cancelling PSW. Since most of the foreign students only plan to gain some working experience in UK and have long-term plans back in their home countries… Further as far as I know, foreign students bring enormous consumption to UK. – Chinese student

“If my spouse could not have worked in the UK, I would not have chosen to undertake my (5 year) programme of study in the UK, because she would not only have lost the ability to earn a salary to support our family but also would have to deal in future with the implications of her lost work experience” -Canadian student
“If I couldn’t come with my spouse, I would choose other countries where the cost of living is much less, such as the USA or Canada.” – South Korean student

Sunday, 6 June 2010

SNS on youtube

To see the latest development in the Goldsmiths students Not suspects campaign please visit youtube and watch our 5 videos in response to the question:
Why is the new Points-Based System for Immigration such a bad idea?

1) The new rules disrupts the student-teacher relationship

2) PBIS is prone to bureaucratic error

3) The new rules are Racist and Classist

4) We want vibrant classrooms

5) Disrupts international exchange of ideas.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

On-line Petition

Students NOT suspects have composed the following on-line petition which is designed to engage the new Warden at Goldsmiths on the matter of PBIS. Please read the text below, follow the link provided (or click on the title of this post) and lend your name. This petition, by the way, is open to all, and in fact would benefit from a wide demographic of supporters.

To: Pat Loughrey, Warden, Goldsmiths, University of London

Dear Pat Loughrey,

I am writing to express my grave concerns with the implementation of the UK Border Agency's (UKBA) Points Based System of Immigration (PBSI) at Goldsmiths. By imposing the UKBA's agenda of national security and border control on universities, PBSI has effectively turned students into suspects and staff into border agents. These xenophobic and reactionary tendencies run counter to the openness and free exchange of ideas necessary for research, teaching, and learning to occur.

Furthermore, the UKBA has transferred the financial and administrative burden of PBSI, which is considerable, onto individual staff and students, resulting in elevated workloads and stress. By increasing the cost and complexity of the visa application process, the UKBA has rendered universities less accessible and less welcoming to non-EU nationals, thus potentially damaging the reputation of higher education in the UK.

The result will be less cultural and social diversity in higher education, to the detriment of Goldsmiths and the sector overall.

I therefore urge Goldsmiths Senior Management to meet with:

Universities UK and the UK Council for International Student Affairs to campaign strongly against PBSI, and for the interests of the higher education sector

Goldsmiths UCU and UNISON to discuss how staff who conscientiously object to PBSI can be protected from disciplinary action

Goldsmiths Student Union to determine how students negatively affected by PBSI can be provided with additional information and support

the entire Goldsmiths community (students and staff) on an on-going basis to report back on its advocacy activities and to solicit input

In general, I would like to see Senior Management take a proactive role and be transparent and accountable in its practices in relation to PBSI, including taking responsibility for, and immediately correcting, any administrative errors.

This is because Goldsmiths students have had visas refused for minor clerical errors, which has caused great disruption to their studies and personal lives.


The Undersigned

Monday, 29 March 2010

Campaign Pack

We've posted all of our campaign material here for anyone who would like to make use of it for their campaigns.

Here you will find:
Goldsmiths Departmental Statements in Opposition to PBIS
A Student Information Booklet
A Factsheet
Old event flyers
T-shirt graphics

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

SNS Public Event @ Goldsmiths

Education without Frontiers: Has the UK Border Agency Overstayed its Welcome?

Speakers, Workshops, Music & Food! March 18th, 5pm til late.@ Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross.

We stand united, as students and staff, in opposition to the new points-based immigration rules. They frame students as suspects and turn staff into border agents. Join us, meet others and help further the campaign.

Speakers include:
Frances Webber (Human Rights Lawyer)
Les Back (Goldsmiths Sociology Department)
Phil Booth (No2ID)
Valerie Hartwich (Manifesto Club)
Sandy Nicoll (SOAS Living Wage Campaign/Justice For Cleaners) + speakers from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, No Borders and more.

Hosted by Goldsmiths Students' Union and Goldsmiths UCU.
Speakers and workshops in RHB 141 (Main building) from 5pm to 8:15pm. Food/social in the common room (Students' Union) 8:15-10pm;Live Music 10pm til late.

Directions: Main Building (Richard Hoggart Building), Goldsmiths, Lewisham Way, New Cross, SE14 6NW. Train stations: New Cross, New Cross Gate. Buses: 21, 36, 53, 136, 171, 172, 177, 225, 321, 343, 436, 453.

Please email us at to register your attendance.
Also, check out our Facebook page.

Monday, 22 February 2010

More Immigration Troubles

A student from New Zealand, who applied to Goldsmiths from within the UK, has been the victim of a mistake by the university administration, and will shortly have to fly back to her country to prove her identity.

In late August I received my visa letter from Goldsmiths with a “typo” saying I was from Japan' she said. 'I repeatedly called and emailed the administration during the course of the month, but never obtained a reply. I then sent my application, fearing I might otherwise miss the semester. Late September I was refused by the UKBA.

After significant pressure from students, the Goldsmiths administration has since agreed to refund her tuition fees and has also offered to refund the visa application fees. They apologised for the clerical error, but maintained that it was the student's fault since she came under a tourist visa, instead of a Tier 4 Visa.

The student comments: Currently, the price of a flight is a great concern to me, as a one-way flight to New Zealand is around $1000. The fact that I was to study post-colonial studies only makes my case all the more ironic.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Experiences of PBI

We have spoken with so many students who have needlessly suffered at the hands of the UK border agency and other bureaucratic bodies. The problems students have had to endure range from the inconvenient to the traumatising and we will be posting a few accounts here on the blog to give you an idea of what sort of treatment foreign nationals wishing to study in Britain can expect.

(The first of which can be viewed directly below)

These bureacratic actions have very serious human implications.