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AUTUMN

28th September


much to study in Britain than her fellow PhD students. In financial terms she is not one student but four. The same study estimated that the personal contribution overseas students make through their off-campus spending was estimated at £2.3 billion. In addition, overseas non-university students who have legally extended their visas are working in the health and social care industry where there are labour shortages. There is a paradox at the heart of this debate.

British universities are increasingly globalised or what Bill Readings refers to as 'post-historical'. Readings argues that as a result the role of today's university has changed profoundly.

The university's relationship to the nation state is no longer what Schiller or Humboldt thought of as a cultural function to foster national tradition and history through the canonisation of knowledge. In a globalised world universities become post-historical in the sense that they are no longer preoccupied with the past but with their global rivals in the pursuit of 'excellence' and 'world-class status'. Additionally, UK universities are increasingly seeking new international markets for the recruitment of undergraduate and postgraduate students.

But at the very same time that universities are widening their horizons, the mobility of academics and students is subjected to stricter forms of immigration control. Within the British government's 'points-based immigration system' students from

 


outside the European Economic Area have to prove that they have enough money in their bank account to pay their fees and support themselves. The calculations vary in each case depending on whether the student has 'established' presence (ie, is already a student) and the location of the university and cost of the course. However, in order to gain maximum points for their case, students have to prove that they have approximately £17,000 in the bank (for both fees and subsistence) for 28 days prior to the receipt of their application.

The lifting of the cap on university fees may further complicate the already Byzantine nature of the process of acquiring a visa.

If students are applying from 42 countries listed by the UK Border Agency as posing a specific concern - largely Middle Eastern nations but also including China, Columbia, Brazil and Cuba - then they are expected to register with the police. Students and staff who apply to extend their stay in the UK have to submit biometric information (photograph and finger prints) and carry an identity card. The result of the points-based system is a sifting and ordering of overseas students into groups who are welcomed for their income and talent and others who are treated with suspicion and prioritised for intense forms of scrutiny.

The British university is being used to further the ends of the nation state but in a different form. Unlike Bill Readings' image of intellectual and financial flows amongst the globalised university higher education is increasingly a pressure point in the politics of border control and migration

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7 October