University of Bradford lecturer in protest over 'spying on students'

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A Bradford academic is backing the protest A Bradford academic is backing the protest

A Bradford academic has protested at being forced to spy on her students in a Government immigration crackdown.

Dr Mandy Turner is among 160 academics warning they have been told to engage in “monitoring and surveillance”, to prove students have a legitimate right to study in this country.

And they warn the shift is “undermining trust between academics and their students”, as well as their own academic freedom.

Dr Turner, a lecturer in conflict resolution in the university’s school of social and international studies, has signed a protest letter to a national newspaper.

It warns academics are now required to weed out non-EU students, by: l monitoring student attendance and meetings with tutors.

l deploying “surveillance” techniques such as biometric scanning and electronic signing-in mechanisms.

l monitoring “behaviour that may be unrelated to academic endeavour”

The academics noted that Universities UK, their umbrella organisation, had protested at a new Bill that threatened to turn private landlords into de-facto border guards.

And they urged the same strong stand for universities, writing: “We urge UUK to go further and declare its rejection of the practices described above.”

The letter reads: “Universities have been preoccupied with managing accountability demanded by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI – formerly the UK Border Agency) and, in effect, have become its proxy.

“Academics at a number of universities in the UK and beyond have now become concerned at this state of affairs and at the methods used to establish bona fide student status.”

Universities were increasingly dependent on overseas students because of funding cuts, yet were made “culprits for failing to regulate their intake”.

A Home Office spokesman said it continued to “welcome the brightest and the best students”, with the number of visa applications on the rise.

But he added: “It is only right that universities adhere to the guidance and immigration rules of sponsorship by taking reasonable steps to ensure that every student has permission to be in the UK.”

Both the University of Bradford and Bradford College declined to comment.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “We have been clear with the Home Office that attendance monitoring should not impact on students’ experience at university, nor detract from the UK as a welcoming destination for international students.”

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