Posted on Thu 04 Oct 2012 at 17:12 by Dave Gilmore
By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the awful situation international students are faced with when registering with the police in London. Our work on this is still on-going but I just thought I’d let you know what the situation is so far.
There is no excuse for the current state of affairs and we fully intend to escalate our actions if the situation does not improve soon.
International students have been forced to wait upwards to 13 hours overnight, in the cold and rain for a 5 minute bureaucratic procedure. After numerous requests, Government officials have not yet rectified the problem despite this problem occurring for potentially over two weeks.
Last Thursday, I was notified of the long lines at Borough Police station for international students wanting to register with the police. International students from certain nationalities have 7 days to register with the police upon arrival and are charged £34 to do so.
We received an email from a student who went to the station on September the 26th of October and arrived shortly before the line closed at 7 AM. She informed us students had begun queuing from midnight onwards. Students who arrived after 7 AM were told to come back tomorrow. The student said she had to wait 10 hours for a quick 5 minute appointment.
On Friday, I went to Borough police station to investigate the problem. I found that the line had closed far earlier at 6:30 AM with 393 international students in it. Most had arrived between the hours of 2 and 5 AM with some having begun queuing at 10 PM. It was clear that for some time international students had been waiting hours in the early morning and outside in the cold due to a shortage of staff during a historically peak period.
We immediately worked with UKCISA and UUK in emailing the mayor, ministers and the local Met office.
On Monday morning- I went to Borough at 6 AM and filmed the line at 6:20 AM with hundreds of international students. There was heavy rainfall and it was freezing cold with no shelter to stand under. Immediately, we emailed news outlets and the story was picked up by the BBC, Guardian and Huffington Post.
Between Tuesday and Thursday, the same situation occurred with the line closing before 6-8 AM with international students starting to camp at midnight for a chance to be attended. During this time we learned that minors were being forced to stand in line as well- we’ve met students as young as 16 attending English boarding schools who were forced to register.
There is no excuse for this. This has potentially been occurring for upwards to two weeks and it is disgraceful that international students have been treated this way. It is unacceptable that even at peak times; this simple procedure which international students are charged for has forced international students to queue in the night due to mismanagement.
We have emailed various officials of potential short-term solutions and Universities have offered to take on the cost of administering these solutions themselves, but no action has yet been taken.