The immigration system in any country is in place to regulate the influx and efflux of people in that country. This system ensures, or at least aims to ensure, that only legitimate individuals enter the country. It also maintains detailed records on all visitors from other countries and ensures people leave once their visa expires. They try hard to keep out any criminals or elements that would be detrimental to their society and way of life. This holds true for the United Kingdom also.
The United Kingdom’s immigration is regulated by the Ministry of Immigration which comes under the Home Office. In 2010, Mark Harper took over as the Minister of Immigration and Theresa May took over as the Home Minister. Ever since their appointments, the immigration system has been mired in controversy and has come under great scrutiny. Mark Harper launched a number of very unpopular campaigns. The most prominent one was the ‘Go Home’ campaign under which large vans with hoardings stating that illegal immigrants risked arrest by staying in the UK and should head home. The racist nature of this campaign was quickly recognized and chided by a number of other government officials.
In another campaign, Mark Harper urged employers and landlords employing a large number of employees to carry out extensive checks on the legal status of foreign employees working for them. This campaign was also widely condemned by many workers since it negatively impacted their employment. When faced with the prospect of poring over the immigration document of hundreds of workers, most employers and landlords just found it easier to employ people only from the European Union. Ironically, Mark Harper had to resign due to a scandal where it was revealed that his maid was an illegal immigrant.
Theresa May has also been tightening rules relating to and really cracking down on illegal immigrants. Despite her best efforts, people have always found a way around the immigration policies. However, a recent declaration by the home office revoking the ‘highly trusted sponsor’ status of over 700 colleges has left a huge number of students in the lurch. Academically, the declaration couldn’t have come at a more detrimental time. Most of the students affected were in the middle of completing their courses. This move casts a shadow of uncertainty over the future of these students and deters other international students to apply.
The main reason for this crackdown was a BBC investigation which revealed that many universities were simply using international students as cash cows. There was little to no emphasis on the quality of education imparted to these students. Some cases were so extreme that teachers actually dictated the answer to multiple choice question tests administered to these students. Also revealed was the fact that many students managed to fake standardized English test scores. All they needed to do was pay a hefty price to ensure a good score. Due to this all tests administered the English Testing Service have also been banned in the UK.
Though the measures taken by the immigration authorities are to protect the UK from illegal immigrants and unethical students, their execution has been shoddy. The same policies could have probably been implemented a lot more harmlessly had some thought been put into them.