Eleven nations in the European Union now have some form of ID card, even if they are not compulsory. Apart from the UK, the only members without any form of identity card scheme are Ireland, Denmark, Latvia and Lithuania.
November 25 has been marked as the date when some foreign nationals, including non-EEA overseas students, applying for a visa will be issued with compulsory ID cards.
The International student market brings £8.5 Billion into the UK economy and chunks of the Higher Education sector are now reliant on this income.
NO2ID (organisation against government’s plans to introduce UK ID Cards and the associated National Identity Register) have concerns that treating overseas students as criminals by compelling them to have their fingers scanned and register for ID cards will adversely affect universities such as the University of Lincoln’s ability to compete in the volatile International student market.
In addition to the recruitment risk this legislation will place an additional administrative burden on Universities. Some of the new requirements placed upon University staff include keeping copies of all their foreign students’ passports; updating their students’ contact details; alerting the UKBA to any students who fail to enroll on their course; reporting unauthorized absences to the UKBA; and informing the UKBA if any student stops their studies.
University staff will also be made responsible for checking ID cards and ensuring this information is reported to the UKBA. Section 8 of the UK Borders Act 2007 enables the University to use the data collected from us in almost any manner it seems fit, contributing to concerns raised by the Information Commissioner in 2004 that we are sleepwalking into a ‘Surveillance Society’. Just as concerns were raised by Academics about the prospect of reporting extremism on campus, similar worries are being raised by support staff about having to report on their students in this way.
Finally, the introduction of ID cards for foreign national can be seen as nothing else but a step towards the widespread introduction of ID cards for the British public – this is explicit in the Home Office’s plans, making students guinea-pigs for that scheme.
James Elsdon-Baker, the regional campaign coordinator, says:
“The IPS has identified students as a target group for their introduction. Once we allow overseas students to be registered with ID cards we will be a step closer to all students being issued with ID cards.
” If we don’t speak out against the Introduction of ID cards for a vulnerable group such as overseas students then the scheme could be coming for you next. Once students are registered under the scheme they will for life become victims of a ‘stalker-state’ tracking them throughout their life and bringing them under a bureaucratic regime of state Identity management. Your Identity will be controlled by a government that has recently admitted it can’t control data-leaks.”
The University of Lincoln has declined to comment on this matter and forwarded to us a quote from Liam Byrne MP, Minister of State for Borders and Immigration:
“This year we begin the biggest shake up of our immigration system for 45 years, and amongst our most important objectives are steps to selectively control migration. Key to this is the introduction of a points system like Australia’s, so that those migrants we need from abroad can come to work and study in Britain.”