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We’re educators not border guards, say UK academics

October 28, 2013

Academics across UK higher education have made public their concern about the fingerprinting foreign students at the universities of Sunderland and Ulster

The Independent newspaper reported that the two institutions had introduced the new fingerprinting systems after the Home Office demanded all international student attendance be monitored.

In a letter to the newspaper signed by 280 academics they protested that there ‘job is to be  educators, not border guards’.

The letter goes on:

We write as academics concerned with the way in which the rhetoric over security is undermining the university as a place of learning and open discussion (“Is this really necessary? Universities introduce fingerprinting for international students”, 21 October).

The latest move by the universities of Sunderland and Ulster, singling out international students to give fingerprints to prove their attendance at lectures, is reprehensible and to be condemned in the strongest terms.

As academics, we have a duty of care towards all our students, and such policies undermine that relationship. We call on the universities of Sunderland and Ulster to withdraw the use of this system, and for all other universities to take seriously their commitment to equitable treatment of all their students.

We also call on the Government to stop putting pressure on universities to enact such immigration policies. This damages the international reputation of UK higher education at all institutions. We are educators, not border guards.

Student leaders have also condemned the fingerprint-monitoring of international students, referring to it as ‘incredibly unwelcoming’ and ‘unfairly target one group’ and a ‘limitation of freedom’.

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