In April 2018 UCL adopted new regulations that require visa holders to attend a compulsory monthly sign in session with their departments.
A survey conducted by the Student Union at the start of the university year, including 500 students across 11 departments, indicated that 83% of those subject to the new policy feel discriminated against in their academic environment. 55% said that the engagement monitoring is affecting their studies in a negative way. Only 25% of those under the new regulations would recommend UCL as a place to study on the basis of their experience as international student, compared to 57% of those under the existing policy.
The new system does not detail requirements for students to have to fill out the forms themselves. The Home Office recommends that universities establish engagement points that are academically consistent with students’ normal studying arrangements. However, departments are concerned about following the regulations of visa compliance and therefore instruct students to come in and physically sign the forms.
Both the Student’s Union and the Lecturer’s Union under the campaign “UCL: Stop Policing International Students” have passed policy to oppose these regulations. In his response to an open letter from the SU the Provost claimed that the UCL monitoring system was in line with that at other universities such as King’s. However, KCL accepts non-physical check-ins that can be held over Skype. KCL has also adhered, due to pressure from the students and staff, to the principle of non-discrimination that implies everyone is treated in the same way regardless of whether they hold a Tier 4 visa or not.
The first open meeting of the campaign will be held on the 12th of November from 6 p.m. at the UCL Institute of Education. Details can be found here.