From education to employment

NUS Welcome Parts of Immigration Points Proposal but Calls for Retention of Right for Appeal

The National Union of Students (NUS) has hailed parts of the immigration points proposal unveiled recently by the UK government.

Its International Students” Officer, Benson Osawe, says NUS appreciates the move to put forward the view of students during consultation. “We are particularly pleased by plans to make the process more transparent, easier to follow and, most crucially, objective,” he said. The fact that there’s little confidence in the current decision-making process, he argues, discourages international students from studying in the UK.

Right to Appeal Necessary

However, Mr Osawe says that the NUS strongly disagrees with the plans to put an end to the right of appeal for prospective students who are refused initial entry clearance. This, he says, constitutes part of the Immigration Asylum and Nationality Bill that received its third reading in the House of Lords early this week. He faults the provision that allows a senior officer to review factual errors and says it’s far too narrow.

In order to ensure that transparency promised in the proposal is strictly adhered to, Mr Osawe suggests that an independent body hears the appeal. The NUS also cautions the government over the support it lends to the plan to secure bonds for some students. It warns that it may lead to discrimination on the grounds of country of origin instead of individual circumstances of the students. This, it says, calls for concerns and advises the government to have a rethink on it.

Given the immense contributions international students make to education in the UK, he urges the government to encourage them and make it easier for them to study in the UK. He recommends that the government continues to seek the views of students in dealing with matters that concern them. And that the eventual decision should reflect the consideration for such matters.

The System, or Systemic Problems?

The immigration point system will allow highly skilled, more experienced and younger workers easy entry to the UK. But low-skilled ones, particularly those outside the EU will find it very difficult to come. Although Home Secretary Charles Clarke says the scheme is designed to tackle the immigration problems caused by people entering the UK and remaining illegally, it seems likely to cause other problems.

For instance, people with genuine reasons to study or work in the UK may be fenced out. Under the scheme applicants are scored points for aptitude, experience and age. They are also graded in respect of the specific need for their skill or available vacancies and considered for a work visa. Highly skilled professionals like doctors, engineers and IT specialists, however, are to be allowed express entry, with others – like teachers and nurses – only allowed to come if there is a shortage of experts in their fields.

Low-skilled workers would only be allowed entry to fill specific vacancies for a fixed period, at the end of which they would have to leave. Low-skilled workers, students and visitors, whose contributions to the development of the British economy are considered to represent less, would only be allowed to come if there is a formal agreement with their home country. The big issue here is that students, low-skilled workers and visitors could end up being denied entry if their countries do not have any formal agreement with UK.

This scheme could then become open to discrimination on the basis of the applicant’s country of origin. This could lead to people from certain parts being admitted while those from parts are excluded. Another hitch it is likely to face is getting the right people for the right jobs to apply for entry clearance to work and live in the UK. In the absence of the right people, anyone could end up passing for them. This could make the whole scheme counter productive.

The scheme is expected to come into force from mid-2007.

Aliyu Musa

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