back to article Universities reject Stasi role

New immigration rules which will force university staff to report foreign students who miss lectures are unfair and will damage relations between lecturers and students, academics say. From next March lecturers will be expected to report to the Borders Agency any students from outside the EU who miss lectures or seminars or …


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  1. Mitch Kent

    Information overload


    Again and again and again do we hear these big brother stories. I consider myself quite up to date, subscribe to newsletters, podcasts and such but this is the first time I've heard of this particular story. ID cards here, finger print scanning, registration and monitoring of select groups there, airports, schools, universities... How is the layman supposed to be aware of all these government plans, form an opinion and react accordingly? I understand that we can't be privy to all the decisions made in government, but it seems they have taken the approach, especially with respect to biometrics and ID issues, to overload and overwhelm. Fighting hard and fast on as many fronts as they can, starting with those edge scenarios trying to pick off the small battles first, making it harder for us that disagree to put across our argument.

    Thank god the academics are sticking up for themselves, and more importantly the students they teach - they're completely right in my opinion. Unfortunately with other target groups, e.g. terrible foreign pariahs, deviant school children and terror-inducing baggage staff, they don't always have a strong enough voice to stick up for themselves.

    I hope those baggage handlers aren't all terrorists, they may soon be shifting my luggage on the way out of this country. I want to fight, but if fighting means voting conservative then my options are limited.


    Mine's the one slung over that suitcase.

  2. MGJ

    Attendance Data

    Getting Universities to monitor the attendance of any of their students is a problem. How many registers are there in lecture halls?

  3. David Hicks
    Thumb Down

    I can see this going down well with the students

    They tend to be a reactionary lot anyway, but enforcing lecture attendance and handing in of coursework?

    There would be riots!

    Surely it's a student's right to sleep through lectures, miss the coursework and then scrape through the end of semester exams?

  4. Jamie

    Goose-stepping through the halls of higer learning

    need I say more.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Missing lectures and handing work in late was part of one's University education, taught you how to blag at BSc level.

    I wish we could have a return to the cold then that would give MI5 something else to worry about rather than continually spying on its' own citizens for such treasonous offences as speeding, wrong waste in the wrong bin, dog fouling etc etc.

    Hang on there's a knock at the door, I'll ........................

  6. Sir Runcible Spoon

    Stasi Icon required

    Well, since I don't have anything to hide, am not at University and I haven't come here from outside the EU, I don't have a problem with this.

    <end of joke>

    We have become the joke. I'm off to foreign climes just as soon as I can sell my bloody house.

    Ta ta.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Dumb academics

    "The letter said that applying extra monitoring to students from outside the EU is discriminatory. It asks universities, MPs and anyone else who opposes the changes to tell the government to change them."

    The obvious "change" the EU will require is to require the Universities to monitor everyone. Dumb academics!

    It's not like the EU is a democracy. It clearly is not.

  8. jon
    IT Angle

    IT skills gap.

    maybe they could computerise attendance and student data, and then just correlate it... oh wait, A) the data already exists, B) it's the UK I forgot all civil servants have to do things the hard way...

  9. lIsRT
    Thumb Down

    This won't work.

    The idiots who thought this up clearly (assuming they went to university at all) did not attend any lectures with large student numbers.

    No lecturer with any concern for their real job will waste the time needed to go through a whole class list which could include literally hundreds of names.

    If actually brought in, it would end up as a self-reporting (and therefore pointless) system.

    "Please ensure you email your tutor if you miss a class - this is so we can gather evidence useful for deporting you."

    First evidence of governmental fuckwittery of the day at 13:12 - that's actually better than usual.

  10. dervheid
    Thumb Down


    just how often are they 'allowed' to miss classes, before the *Border Agency* comes looking for them with a one-way ticket 'home'?

    "I'm sorry <insert politically correct gender identifier>, you appear to have missed two lectures this term. You have failed to comply with your student visa conditions, and are booked on the next flight to <insert destination>."

    "Sick, you say, ah well, too bad"

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not...

    ...make sure they get reported too for reading terrorist material, even when it's published on the reading list for their course and is available from government sources?

    Oh, hang on...

  12. Jon Press

    The law of unintended consequences

    1. Government reduces spend-per-head on UK students

    2. Universities tap overseas students to make up cash shortfall

    3. Bursars aren't keen to investigate immigration status of potential sources of income

    4. Government oncerned about bogus students, can't trust bursars, recruits lecturers as spies

    5. Students stop coming because they're treated like criminals

    6. British universities grow overseas operations, cut back at home

    7. British universities have to charge larger top-up fees for UK students

    8. UK students go overseas for their education because it's cheaper

    9. UK univerisities close down, UK graduates stay abroad

    Shouldn't "Profit!!!" be in there somewhere?

  13. Clarissa
    Black Helicopters


    Just what we need... miss a lecture due to a hangover and the black helicopters are all over you. One way to keep students out of the bar I suppose.

    Though if my former university (Southampton) is anything to go by then the lecturers won't have a clue as to who is supposed to be in their lectures anyway.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Hey, Border Agency agents...

    ...leave them kids alone.

    Nah, doesn't scan. Probably won't be a song about it after all. Sorry kids, out you go.

    As gubmint fuckwittery goes, this is one of the more uninspired pieces of idiocy. But hey, we must really, really be having it good since they have time and money to spend on this kind of nitpicking. No crimes left to solve, no dangers left to protect against. Not...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I skip lectures weekly..

    ..and my surname is "Hussein". Guess I'm F**ked then.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Re: This won't work.

    "The idiots who thought this up clearly (assuming they went to university at all) did not attend any lectures with large student numbers."

    Yes, I suppose they think the lecturers take a register at the start of every lecture. "Is Johnny here today?" Followed by another hundred names, a five minute tour of the material, then off to the next lecture. Starts to sound like national service but without the uniforms and the shouting.

    Still, it's yet another projection of a simple worldview onto the world itself by the Home Secretard and all the other "hard of thinking" New Labour types who, if they even went to university, were probably all NUS "activists": people clinging onto their government-funded holiday at the bottom of the political ladder for as long as possible before conveniently shedding those populist, student-friendly views and being incorporated into the party machine.

  17. Edward Miles

    Simpler solution....

    If they fail their exams (after the mandated one resit opportunity of course!) Kick them out. Else leave them alone in bed recovering from their hangovers!

  18. Jay

    A good idea

    just badly implemented.

    As I tend to work in trades that are easy for illegals to enter i can understand what they are trying to do.

    Ever noticed the chaps who deliver your documents or take aways don't speak english anymore?

    There are a fair few thousand Brazilians working in the courier industry that come over on student visas and work full time never attending any educational classes so if anyone can think of a better way please suggest it.

    Flame because I'm waiting for it.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Handing in late?

    So late assignments will get you deported? FFS. Or missing a seminar with a lecturer that never does their prep and which is basically a waste of 2 good hours? What an excellent metric for determining whether someone is a threat to the British Way of Life.

    Yet another Big Brotherism.

  20. Frank Bough
    IT Angle

    What Kind of Pansies...

    ...are afraid of a database? It's not even real data mining like it did when I used to stalk Bill Gates / work for Microsft etc etc

  21. Anonymous Coward

    @Mitch Kent

    ' I want to fight, but if fighting means voting conservative then my options are limited.'

    That's a scary fcuk-ing thought.

  22. Anonymous Coward


    A better way?

    Eliminate the availability of Student Visas.

    If UK gov doesn't want foreign students here, then they should just say so and have done with it.

  23. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Role call at the house of commons

    While we are at it, have members of parliament write one essay per week on the reasons behind their votes on any one issue. Handing in someone else's work, plagiarism, saying "its a secret", or "the dog ate it" means their Littlewoods list purchases go to the local charity shop. Failure to attend the house of commons gets them deported to Iraq where the locals can express their appreciation for being liberated.

  24. Chris

    assigned seating

    It's that simple to report on missed lectures. You don't need to take attendence of those who are present. Just note the empty seats. Once the little sh*ts learn not attending can get them deported, there will be very little reporting to do.

    Lord knows I tried to get them to come to class back when I was teaching. I made attendence and homework part of their grade in the futile hope that they might learn through sheer repetition. The lazy w@nkers still didn't do it even though all they had to do was copy the answers from the back of the book. They could have failed every test and still passed the course if they came to class and did their homework. I still had over 25% fail. And this was a remedial class covering material they were supposed to have learned in high school before they even got to college!

    If they come over on a student visa and don't go to classes, that's fraud, and they ought to be sent back to East Bumfuckistan to try and scratch a living out of the rocky soil.

    Mine's the one with the lecture notes on the back of a cocktail napkin in the pocket...

  25. chris

    Attendance 'No!', printing 'Yes!'???

    So reporting on non-attendance is bad for staff/student relationships, but reporting them for printing public documents - the Al Qaeda manual - and getting them deported to Afghanistan is not?

  26. Hans
    Thumb Down

    Wait, don't let em go, we need 'em!

    How else are we supposed to fill our unis over in the Uk? Brits with brains go for Ox/Bridge or unis on the continent anyway, right?

    Besides, when I studied, I had to work to survive. So I had a full time job (I started part time first year) and I managed to go to uni about half the time, not even ... I did not fail but I certainly missed more than half the lectures!

    Now, these guyz from the rest of the world might not have the cash to survive without working, and with the current economy, I do not think you can survive without a full time job ... so cut the crap guyz. Just how many are working in the UK with a student visa and failing because they do not attend any classes? Why must the majority always endure for the minority?

    @Chris, up until you wrote East Bumfuckistan I was with you ... sad :( - If you can prove that they are fraudsters! Then again, if they work, what is wrong with that, I mean, it is not like they are living off us?

    @Jay, I encounter this everyday, Brits (or Amercians, ... ) that work here in France and cannot speak French ... so what? They'll learn soon ... ;-)

    The more you differ from me, the more you can enrich me and I you; we both need to open up for it to happen, though! So, open up, people!

  27. This post has been deleted by its author

  28. Peter Lawrence
    Black Helicopters

    @ A good idea

    Why not simply have the government check that a) an international student has enrolled in a sufficient number of courses each semester and b) that a sufficient number of courses are completed each semester (allowing for withdrawals, and the like). Seems that having a semester's transcripts forwarded to the Border Agency's office for each international student would be easier than trying to force lecturers to monitor attendance.

  29. Michael


    I work and lecture at a Scottish University. I have around 50 students in my class. I've only ever had around 30 show up at any one time other than the first and last day. The lowest turnout was 15. I do take a note of who is there by passing around a sign in sheet. Why? So that if I get a really low pass rate I can at least argue they didn't show up. Will I be checking up every week to work out who is foreign and needs reporting? No. I only use this information after the exams when people complain about low marks. Should this come into force I guess I'll just stop taking a register. Does the government seriously think that lecturers will do this sort of bullshit for them?

    I have to add I feel sorry for those in England that need to pay top ups. Also, not all intelligent students go to oxbridge or abroad. We actually have some quite good people who go to other unis. It is an amazingly condescending how people make that assumption.

  30. Ascylto


    "End off term peppers, pliss!"

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You think this is my job?

    "If they come over on a student visa and don't go to classes, that's fraud, and they ought to be sent back to East Bumfuckistan to try and scratch a living out of the rocky soil."


    "The concern is that some people are using student visas to come to the UK then working full time rather than studying. This is, frankly, not an unreasonable concern."

    Perhaps true. But we already have a (presumably) well-funded service for finding people who come to Britain for fraudulent reasons. It's a mixture of the Border Patrol, the Police, the Home Office, Customs & Excise, etc. etc. etc. What is being talked about here is a wholesale delegation of both responsibility and blame onto universities - and perhaps even onto specific people - without any extra resources, and without the slightest bit of protection (legal, financial, etc.) for the universities or the individuals who now have to do the government's job. Even for academics who _wish_ to do it, this is a pretty damn vulnerable position.

    I'm the course director of a Masters' degree which brings in about 10 non-EU students a year (from a total student enrolment of around 45, which makes it above the average size for a UK Master's programme). All are sponsored by their governments or have otherwise stumped up a huge amount of money to come here - course fees alone are in 5 figures and the associated living costs for a year make this an expenditure at least equivalent to the national minimum wage _in the UK_ - and many of them come from very much poorer countries than that. (I have students this year from Malawi, three different tiny Caribbean islands, non-rich Arab countries, Turkey and other decidedly low- and middle-income countries.)

    Sometimes they miss lectures. Sometimes they might miss a couple. One gentleman from an Arab nation last year had his daughter (they have their families here too in many cases, you see) fall fairly seriously ill. He missed about a month of the course: but still completed his course work on time, incidentally. And passed. Good for him. Meanwhile, another woman from the same country was told by her sponsoring agency that she could not write her dissertation on the subject she intended to, so had to virtually start again. The sponsors and the university between them agreed on a four-month extension. I have no lectures to take with her, she's writing her project work. She has a full legal right to be both in this country and a registered student of the university, but I don't know where she is physically, only that she is working hard on her project, according to the emails I receive. The work she does is my problem. Where she does it is not. After all, I am doing a full day's work at home today myself. Would be pretty hypocritical for me to suggest she had to do otherwise.

    If you - and I mean here any of you reading this and also "you" the government - seriously think these clever, committed people are here on some kind of scam please feel free to come to one of our classes and discuss your theories. And if you think "well of course I'm not talking about _you_ dear chap, just all those other dodgy 'academics' running fraudulent courses out there" - you think this initiative will discriminate? And if so, on what grounds will it do so? Where do you draw the lines?

    Still, there is one factor not included in the report directly, and perhaps not mentioned that much in the comments above. I am not going to do this. Any of it. Nor is any other academic I work with or know. I don't even need to actively refuse to do it. I don't have much time and this is not a priority. If things aren't priorities they get put to one side for quite some period, and like most people at the same level of this job as me, I've got a diary that's looking full up until March. I might get round to looking for them then. (By the way I don't take registers. We're all adults. I'm not going to start either. I offer a course which also runs online and because we are all adults people can come and study from that material as well, if they want, as long as they do the work.)

    I post all the above anonymously purely to protect the identities of people referred to here, were this not the case I would have happily given you my own name. I work at a major UK university.

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