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Referenda Case

All Student Vote (Spring 2023)

Warwick SU to oppose the university’s overcompliance with home office guidelines on the monitoring of migrant/international students

To lobby the university's central administration to bring about alternative ways of measuring academic engagement and to lobby the University to make a commitment to not implement any new policies and methods of monitoring migrant students that escalate the hostile environment at Warwick.

This Union notes:

1. Around 40% of Warwick students are international students. Research on wellbeing support inequalities between home students and international students show that international students often have higher need for support from university services but end up with lower engagement with support provisions [2]

2. Multiple elements contribute to this inequality: the confusing landscapes that make up wellbeing services, cultural competency (openness about mental health issues compared to students’ home country) and fears over accessing services leading to visa statuses being compromised [2].

3. The Hostile Environment is a set of legal and administrative measures existing across different institutions in the UK, designed to encourage those without secure status to leave the country by limiting their access to work, housing, healthcare and benefits. It is this policy which has produced fear as commonplace amongst migrants, and UK universities are committed to prioritizing effective compliance with the policy over the wellbeing of international students, through the use of monitoring systems.

4. At Warwick, after an international student misses 6 consecutive monitoring points, they will be informed of the intention to revoke their Student Visas, unless sufficient reasons can be provided for their absences. [3] This system penalises international students with chronic health conditions and disabilities, who experience a flare-up in their condition and require time to recover. 5. In 2022, the university denied coursework extensions to an international postgraduate student suffering from a rare and aggressive form of cancer, initially rejecting these requests despite the student having the full support of her department. Though they eventually made a U-turn and granted her an extension, if the student's visa was curtailed she would have been prevented from accessing essential life-saving medicine.

[4] 6. On top of the issues relating to monitoring points, international students also pay fees several times higher than home students, as well as visa costs and an international health surcharge fee. However, they are not eligible for maintenance loans, Universal Credit or Disabled Students' Allowance. But to access the University hardship fund, students are required to submit a bewildering array of bank statements, receipts and other financial information. This can present especially severe difficulties for international students experiencing chronic health conditions or disability simultaneously.

This Union believes:

1. The hostile environment is immoral and has no place in Universities.

2. Migrant students deserve the same level of welfare and care provided to home students and the same treatment when they miss monitoring points.

3. Better support structures should be available for migrant students, and their welfare should not only be flagged as a concern in relation to monitoring points, which are always tied to surveillance by the Home Office.

4. Beyond the way that monitoring points produce a climate of fear and inequality between home and international students, in their current form are not an effective way of measuring academic engagement and a less punitive method that is not rooted in surveillance should be implemented.

This Union resolves:

1. For Sabbatical officers to approach the university’s central administration to bring about alternative methods of measuring academic engagement as a change in university-wide policy. They should communicate with academic departments at the University to ensure alternative forms of academic engagements are explored and implemented. This should be led by the VP Postgraduate Officer, VP Welfare and Campaigns and VP Education.

2. To lobby the University to make a commitment to not implement any new policies and methods of monitoring migrant students that escalate the hostile environment at Warwick, and to lobby against laws which lead to its escalation across higher education institutions.

3. For the Student Union and Sabbatical officers to approach the University to actively identify inequalities in welfare provisions between home students and international students.

4. To lobby for greater financial support for international students, and specific support for disabled international students, in the form of hardship funds, disability support and subsidising the costs of the International Health Surcharge.


References:                                                                                                      See Good practice guide On Monitoring student ENGAGEMENT and progress 2022/23 ilities/recordkeeping/attendance/                                                [1]says-2476194