Motions for EGM of Thurs 14 June 2018




Motions for debate

International (non-EU) staff; Tier 4 Student Monitoring and 'Hostile immigration environment'; Congress disruptions


Motion 1: International (non-EU) Staff and Detrimental Treatment

UCL UCU notes:
  1. That the UK government’s Hostile Immigration Environment (H.I.E.) severely impacts international non-EU UCL staff members:
    1. onerous application fees for visas, residence, and naturalisation, + NHS surcharges
    2. hindering career development due to uninterrupted residence requirements
  2. That 12.1% of UK academic staff are non-EU international citizens (source: HESA);
  3. That UCL defines itself as 'London’s Global University'; 
  4. That current UCL mitigation of the H.I.E. falls short of standards adopted by other UK academic institutions, consisting only of:
    1. Reimbursing costs of in- and out-of-country visas/visa renewals and Further-Leave-to Remain only for Tier-2 and Tier-1 visa holders; and,
    2. A maximally £10,000 immigration loan that needs to be repaid within 12 months.
UCL UCU believes that:
  1. UCL’s 'global' status relies on the crucial involvement of its internationally-diverse work force, including non EU international staff;
  2. As a matter of equality and economic non-discrimination, UCL should commit to Levelling the Playing Field for its international staff;
  3. UCL’s current immigration support policy is ineffective in mitigating the effects of the H.I.E. as it is restricted only to some visa categories;
  4. UCL’s current immigration loan policy does not mitigate the rising costs associated with the H.I.E., which can involve 10's of thousands of pounds when dependants are included;
  5. UCL’s current immigration support policy should reimburse permanent residence application costs (ILR) if staff members remain employed within the university.
UCL UCU resolves:
  1. To collect evidence through an anonymous survey:
    1. UCL UCU will undertake an anonymous but validated on-line survey to objectively measure the overall satisfaction of international UCL staff with existing UCL policy regarding immigration;
    2. UCL UCU will share the survey results with UCL management to underline the case for policy change.
  2. To seek policy change. UCL UCU will lobby UCL for policy change, specifically:
    1. UCL should reimburse costs associated with staff members’ applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and Naturalisation, supporting international staff being treated as equals;
    2. UCL should reimburse in-country immigration expenses for renewal of residence of visa types other than tier-1 and tier-2, e.g. UK ancestry visas, EEA Qualified Person status, HSMW, etc.;
    3. UCL should waive repayment of immigration loans if the borrower continues working for UCL over an agreed period of time after the visa/residence/nationality status comes into effect.



Motion 2: Tier 4 Students, Visa Monitoring, and the 'Hostile Immigration Environment'

UCL UCU notes that:
  1. The ‘Hostile Immigration Environment’ fostered by the UK government is having a seriously detrimental impact not only on international students and staff but also on the relationship between staff and students more generally. In particular the recent changes to Tier 4 visa monitoring requirements implemented by UCL are directly extending this hostile environment onto the university campus and into our classrooms.
  2. UCL’s monitoring requirements go beyond the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) own guidance, as UKVI do not expect attendance monitoring ‘not directly linked to academic activities, which place an additional burden on both staff and students’ and/or ‘introduce policies which are seen to be unreasonable’ [1] . 
  3. According to UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, the ‘underlying immigration enforcement strategy of the [UK] Government relies on private citizens and civil servants to do front-line immigration enforcement’, and that over-broad enforcement potentially ‘violates international human rights law’ [2] 
  4. It is possible that a number of UCL staff members will decide to refuse to perform such requirements on grounds of conscience.
UCL UCU rejects:
  1. The unequal and/or discriminatory treatment of anyone (staff or student) within the university due to their place of origin or country of citizenship.
UCL UCU supports the ‘Statement of Principles on Tier 4 Visa Monitoring’ agreed by a large meeting of UCL staff and students on Tuesday 5 June (draft statement appended) and resolves that:
  1. While UCU members recognise that UCL is required to carry out Tier 4 monitoring duties, it is crucial that such monitoring has no discriminatory effects, respects academic integrity and is in line with ethical and critical engagement.
  2. UCL should openly support and advocate on behalf of its international students & staff. It thus should be doing the minimum necessary to meet the UK Visa and Immigration requirements on Tier 4 monitoring not aim to exceed them and it must convey its policy on monitoring clearly and transparently across the entire university, equally to all staff and students.
  3. UCL must respect the choice by any of its staff members objecting to performing additional monitoring requirements on grounds of conscience, and that objectors are not subject to any detriment, including disciplinary action.
  4. UCL senior management should formally respond to the points raised in the recently agreed ‘Statement of Principles on Tier 4 Visa Monitoring’ and disclose to the campus unions the legal advice received on this and any requirements or guidelines imposed by Home Office officials. 
[1] UK Council for International Student Affairs (2016) Tier 4 Compliance: A Practical Guide, p.28; 
[2] End of Mission Statement of the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance at the Conclusion of Her Mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.




 Motion 3: The Disruption of UCU National Congress and Democracy in the Union

UCL UCU notes:
  1. walkouts by UCU staff during UCU Congress on Wednesday 30 May and Friday 1 June when two motions were up for debate, stopping Congress from continuing;
  2. that these two motions were critical of the General Secretary's actions in the decision to end the USS strike action, and varied from 'no confidence' (Motion 10) to 'censure' (Motion 11);
  3. that the effect of these walkouts was to cost UCU most of Congress business and nearly two days of delegate time.
UCL UCU further notes:
  1. that the sovereign body of UCU and the AGM is Congress; that between Congresses it is the National Executive Committee; and that between NEC meetings, the General Secretary and the President make day-to-day decisions.
UCL UCU believes that:
  1. it is a basic trade union principle that all elected representatives must be subject to recall by the appropriate voting body, including passing motions of no confidence or censure;
  2. congress is the appropriate democratic voting body for considering such motions with respect to nationally and regionally elected officers of UCU including the General Secretary;
  3. motions 10 and 11 were properly ordered onto the Congress agenda (and had been tabled and public weeks before Congress);
  4. the General Secretary had in excess of 48 hours from the first walkout to the close of Congress in which she could have chosen to distance herself from the walkouts and insist that the debate take place;
  5. the General Secretary took no action, and as a result avoided facing the criticism of Congress and thereby brought UCU into disrepute.
UCL UCU resolves that:
  1. motions 10 and 11 should be heard at a recall Congress; 
  2. branch delegates should be mandated to vote in favour of Motion 10, that is, to support a Congress vote of no confidence in the General Secretary;
  3. in the meantime we must continue to build united campaigns over pay and pensions.

 

Appendix 1: 5th June Statement of Principles on Tier 4 Visa Monitoring

As staff and students at UCL, we recognise that international students lie at the heart of our institution. International students make an invaluable contribution to UCL’s dynamic intellectual climate and the important diversity of our university community. These are priorities which are consistent with UCL’s Global Engagement Strategy, including its commitment to cultivating global outlooks and sharing academic expertise for solving global problems through extending the global reach of our teaching, research, and academic partnerships. [1]

Since 2012, universities have been increasingly involved in monitoring the compliance of international students on Tier 4 visas. Staff across the university sector have raised concerns that such processes harm staff-student relationships and turns staff into proxy border guards for the Home Office [2]. While current legal duties are in place, UCL cannot but conform to Home Office requirements. We also, however, have a moral duty to ensure that in doing this we do not foster a climate of suspicion and discrimination against international students.

Unfortunately, recent changes to UCL regulations for staff monitoring and reporting of international students’ compliance with Tier 4 visa requirements are having precisely such pernicious effects. The ‘comprehensive’ monitoring and requirements for increasingly regular, on site, face to face checks put a clearly discriminatory burden on international students that is in conflict with stated principles in Home Office Tier 4 guidance. The Home Office document ‘Tier 4 Compliance: A Practical Guide’ states that it is inappropriate to put in place monitoring processes that are not directly linked to academic activities or that place additional burdens on either staff or students (p. 28). 

In addition, as colleagues noted in a May 24th letter to the Provost, the current UCL processes: put additional pressure on students at a time when we have increasing evidence about risks to student wellbeing and mental health; take up time of both professional and academic staff in bureaucracy that is irrelevant to and in conflict with the task of supporting learning and research; and build a culture of mistrust, putting at risk what should be a relationship of mutual respect between students and the university.

While UCL is required to carry out Tier 4 monitoring duties, it is crucial that does so in line with key principles that avoid any discriminatory effects, that respect academic integrity, that are consistent with current practices in digital education, and that maintain a stance of ethical and critical engagement.

  • Principle of non-discrimination: All students should be treated equally in relation to attendance and supervision requirements regardless of their immigration status. International students should not be subject to differential treatment or expectations than home students.

  • Principle of academic integrity: the requirement of UKVI is that universities should be able to demonstrate students are engaged with their programmes of study, as these have been designed based on academic principles; academic programmes should not have to be re-designed to fit non-academic, immigration policy requirements.

  • Principle of digital education: UCL has embraced the goal of being a world leader in digital education. Students and staff should be able to engage with one another, and with programmes of study, digitally: physical presence on campus and pen and ink documents should not be given preference over digital engagement and documentation, except where these are motivated by core academic goals and principles.

  • Principle of ethical and critical engagement: UCL must put the principles of ethical and critical engagement into practice in relation to requirements for HEI immigration monitoring and directly challenge the Home Office when guiding principles of equity, respect and academic values come into conflict with the minutiae of bureaucratic requirements.

We call on UCL to formally commit to the above and undertake a thorough review of new and existing guidance for monitoring of students on Tier 4 visas in light of these principles. We further urge UCL to take a more public and proactive stand with the Home Office, using its considerable influence to effect positive and non-discriminatory changes in the treatment of Tier 4 international students. 

[1] https://www.ucl.ac.uk/global/global-engagement-strategy
[2] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/mar/02/checks-on-students-undermine-trust

*ENDS*
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