UCU congress took a tough stance against the government’s points based immigration system (PBSI), voting to boycott it and to campaign for it to be abolished.
Congress also voted to give “unqualified support” to any union member disciplined as a result of boycotting the new system.
The new rules require international students and university staff to carry biometric ID cards – and for institutions to monitor them and report any absences to the home office.
Institutions are expected to report “suspicious” behaviour, particularly if they suspect that individuals are involved in terrorism.
The union said that these rules “pandered to anti-immigration racism” and made HE and FE institutions “agents of the home office”.
Delegates passed a motion calling PBSI “discriminatory and an attack on the civil liberties of international staff and students”.
Sally Hunt, the UCU general secretary, said, “UCU members are educators not border guards.”
There was a packed fringe meeting to discuss how PBSI would impact on universities and colleges and what lecturers could do to fight it.
Many lecturers spoke of how PBSI had already made an impact at their institutions.
The new rules require students to provide proof that they have enough money to fund themselves throughout the entire period of their courses, something which is often difficult.
Delegates reported that they had already seen a drop in international student registrations.