Letter of support for migrant staff and students during the COVID-19 crisis
It has come to our attention that some UK universities have released COVID-19 advice to their international students contrary to, or falling short of, Home Office guidance. Certain UK universities have continued to monitor staff and students, even as the Home Office suspended all compliance actions. In a complete abrogation of responsibility and leadership, certain other universities have either suggested to their international students that they must return to their countries of origin during this health crisis, or have made it more difficult for those who wish to return to do so. This compounds fear and anxiety in what is already an unprecedented and unstable period for international students and staff. Absent any standard practice across the sector, and despite reminders from UCU to universities regarding their duties of care, UK universities continue to risk the emotional, physical, and material wellbeing of their migrant constituents.

We the undersigned are writing to request an immediate halt to this behavior, and to urge universities to take a proactive position to ensure the health and safety of all their staff and students. Universities have a duty of care, especially to their international students, which they cannot ignore. Most countries are now either actively closing their borders or strongly considering doing so, and, with a two-week and largely symptomless incubation period, it is often the case that a student catches COVID-19 in the UK, only to then be encouraged to leave the country by their educational institution.

International students choose to come to the United Kingdom to undertake a degree here, and have to pay a significant cultural and material premium in order to do so. They contribute enormously to our intellectual, cultural, and economic life regardless of how long their programme lasts, or how long they remain in the country thereafter. They deserve protection and care from the universities they have chosen to study at, live in, and often work for.

We ask universities to uphold their duty of care to their international staff and students by both suspending all monitoring of migrant members, and instituting the most generous extension of visa sponsorship possible during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. A detailed link to our suggested policy guidelines can be found here:

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