Around 30 students protested outside the Senate House at the University of Bristol last week against the University’s monitoring of its international students. The protest highlights the concerns of Bristol’s international students who are currently obliged to check in monthly with their faculty, a process not required of any students who are from the EU.
The United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) makes universities monitor international students in order to ensure they are participating in their studies. Organisers of the protest at Bristol University said the monitoring was “a violation of these students’ basic human rights, an insult to their human dignity, and an intrusion on their private lives”.
David Adler, the University’s Director of Communications and Marketing said: “The main reason we are doing it is as a welfare activity and checking that students are not struggling in silence.”
However, Singapore student Kelvin Cheng said the process “made me feel like I was on parole; like I was a criminal. I felt as though the fact that I’m from a country outside the EU was being highlighted with a giant red marker…the whole process made me very uncomfortable.”
The schools at Cambridge University have come under criticism for the level of fines imposed on students, as well as how the money from these fines is used. Since October 2011, £38,209 in fines has been collected from students which averages at £1,232 per college.
Downing College uses the money it receives in student fines to fund an annual coach trip for administrative staff, saying it is justified by the inconvenience put upon them by students’ misbehaviour.
As each college sets their own disciplinary rules, the system is ambiguous and students are confused as to what behaviour merits a fine. Students are fined for such things as leaving their bikes unattended and if an act of vandalism is committed on campus, all students are fined. Students are also fined for ‘noise violations’ and setting off fire alarms, with the amount of the fine frequently changing.
“The University seems to have absolute power over its students and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it,” a Cambridge student said. The fining system confuses students and shows a failure in the University’s communication with students upon their matriculation.
A second year student at the University of Virginia sustained head injuries after being punched in the face on campus after being called a homophobic slur. The student in question is being treated for bruising as well as popped blood vessels as well as a possible tear to the eye tissue.
The student was walking with a female friend when he was verbally abused by a male passer-by who then proceeded to physically assault him after he questioned the harasser, who then left with a group of male bystanders.
The student said he was frustrated no one helped him, saying: “A guy about twice the size of [the harasser] came up after and said ‘Oh, I feel really bad’, but he didn’t do anything about it.”
The LGBT Society, Queer Students’ Union, Co-president Katie Mayfield said of the incident “[Hate crimes] create an environment of fear that students have to live in…We are working constantly to protect our community from situations like these.”