Last week UCISA ran a couple of seminars on the points based immigration system. The seminars were well attended by a mixture of admissions, registry and IT staff from higher education institutions as well as a number of representatives from suppliers. The seminars presented an opportunity to ask questions of UKBA staff as well as highlighting how the new system will work.
The key points from the meeting to be emphasised are:
- There is no expectation from UKBA for additional monitoring to be put in place to satisfy the requirements for checking that international students do not miss ten consecutive ‘expected contacts’. What an HEI should have is a policy that defines how it will identify (any) students who have ceased studying (for whatever reason).
- The mechanism for the transfer of data between the sponsor management system (SMS) and institutional student records systems is that a file is extracted from one system then uploaded into the other. It will be necessary to log into the SMS in order to extract or upload data as appropriate. Consequently each HEI will need robust processes to ensure the correct records are uploaded into the SMS, when to assign confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) numbers, to check on the status (and upload it) of the assigned CAS numbers and how to handle applicant withdrawals.
- UUK continue to lobby for a separate CAS status to indicate a successful visa application. Currently the status is Used whether or not the application has been successful.
- UUK continue to lobby for a different payment regime, citing the way the Criminal Records Bureau invoice for searches.
Overall I felt the seminars were a success. The UKBA staff who attended were open and honest with their answers and contributed fully to the day. The slides are up on the UCISA website and we are currently writing up the question and answer session as these will address many of the issues that HEIs will have. There is still much work to be done regarding both the implementation and communications about it but hopefully those that attended the sessions will have a clearer understanding of the direction of travel.