University Lecturers: Academics or Immigration Officers?
A group of university lecturers and students have recently handed a petition to the British Government, in order to protest against forthcoming immigration reform. As part of these new rules, UK universities will be required to obtain a licence before they can enrol students from outside the EU. Furthermore, the universities will also be expected to sponsor these overseas students for the period of their study.
Although, the government insist these plans were subject to a period of consultation with Universities UK, as well as other organisations within higher education, these reforms have been met with resistance. As part of the sponsorship of international students, lecturers will have a duty to report on individuals’ attendance in class. Although, the Home Office is quick to point to the universities duty of care to all of its students, such a pronouncement has angered some. Ian Grigg-Spall of the National Critical Lawyers Group insists that there are dangers in requiring teachers to take on the role of ‘quasi immigration officers.’ Moreover, he states that such action would be ‘a breach of our university autonomy and…a breach of academic freedom. This is a slippery slope, this is a dangerous slope.’
Whether or not, academic autonomy and freedom are seen as more important issues than illegal immigration remains to be seen. Arguably, now may be a good time to revisit Foucault’s ‘Panopticism.’