The National Union of Students (NUS) and the Warwick Students’ Union have both condemned the Government’s plan to issue compulsory identity cards to students. The plan went into effect for international students last Tuesday.
The NUS say in a press release that the cards “could lead to increased discrimination and alienation for students already facing the daunting challenge of leaving home and studying in a foreign country,” and “could deter the very students our universities are seeking to attract, stripping universities of vital funding, and our campus communities of the cultural diversity we currently enjoy.” The NUS are also concerned about the Government’s ability to process prospective students’ information quickly enough, “potentially meaning international students could be denied access to a university not because of academic ability but as a result of administrative delays.”
The Warwick Students’ Union council passed a motion on 24 November denouncing ID cards and calling for a campaign against their introduction. The motion declares that the cards “constitute a blow to liberty.” The motion was passed in opposition to the Government’s plan to introduce mandatory ID cards for all students – home as well as international – applying for student loans from 2010. The issuance of these ID cards will begin before their introduction to the rest of the UK population.
Warwick Students’ Union Communications Officer Mike Pidgeon says the Union do not believe there will be a significant impact on the recruitment of international students from the introduction of ID cards. “This is because the idea of ID cards is not a new one, and many countries already have them in place. The issue here is the amount of personal biometric detail that is contained on these cards, as well as the potential cost of these cards to the taxpayer.”
Pidgeon explains that the cards threaten liberty because of “the amount of information stored on these cards, and the way this biometric data could be used in the future.”
The Union also believe that students should not be used to test the introduction of ID cards. “We believe that the government is using students as guinea pigs as they are a group which is clearly dependent on state support,” says Pidgeon.
The details of the Union’s campaign against ID cards are “yet to be decided, although as with any campaign it is important that anyone and everyone who is interested has the chance to get involved. We would very much encourage anyone who feels strongly about this issue to get in touch with us,” said Pidgeon.