Senior UK academic calls for end to police registration for international students

Craig Calhoun, the new vice-chancellor of the London School of Economics, has joined other senior figures in the UK's university sector in calling for an end to the requirement that students from outside the European Economic Area must register with the police before they start their courses.

Mr Calhoun was speaking on the day the Metropolitan Police were forced to change the rules on student registration because the system could not cope with the numbers of students waiting to be registered.

All non-EEA students at UK educational institutions are required by law to register with the police within seven days of arriving in the UK. They cannot start their courses until they have done so.

In London, 30,000 new students were expected to register at the beginning of September 2012 for the new academic year. All were required to register at the Overseas Visitors Registration Office in Borough High Street, in south London. The office was quite unprepared for the sudden influx and there were long queues. Many students had to return several times because the office turned them away and so missed the beginning of their courses. Students were unable to attend lectures until they had registered.

Mr Calhoun said that the requirement was greatly damaging to the UK's export education sector. He said it was a 'gratuitous embarrassment' because the information taken by police has already been taken by the UK Border Agency when students applied for visas.

He added 'If you are going to tell students that they have seven days to register with the police, then you have an obligation to make it possible. It could not be better organised if the goal was to embarrass the government of this country.'

On 4th October 2012, after some students had been waiting to register for over a week, the Metropolitan Police agreed to change the system for registration. Students will now have until 31st of December to register and universities and colleges will be able to schedule a date and time for students to attend Brandon House.

However, Mr Calhoun, along with other senior academics and the National Union of Students, says the requirement should be scrapped altogether.

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