Couldn't make it to conference this year? Just want to refresh your memory? Web and Communications Manager, Jane McCarthy, shares her thoughts on the second day. Please add any comments below!
A full day of learning today with 31 parallel sessions followed by a mid-conference plenary; offering delegates the chance to share current immigration issues that they’re facing with the Home Office and Sopra Steria.
We also had drop in sessions for colleagues working in FE and students’ unions as well as an opportunity to find out about AISA and ICN.
Parallel sessions: future borders and immigration system, ability in disability and global community programmes
From UKVI updates on the future borders and immigration system to OIA sharing insight into international students’ complaints, there was a wealth of best practice and peer learning.
I attended ‘celebrating the ability in disability’. This panel featured an international student, colleagues from Association of Commonwealth Universities, University of Leeds, London South Bank University to talk about disability and overcoming barriers to study. They discussed specific challenges for international students, citing loneliness and the need to raise awareness of disabilities to all students and staff. There was a consensus that all departments, from international offices to disability services need to be more joined up and collaborative.
Leeds University Union also shared an overview and of their Global Community Programme. It focused on cultural sharing and bringing together UK, EU and international students. Katharine and Richard shared their aims for the programme, challenges and barriers they faced and how they overcame them. They highlighted the importance of collaborating with their university's international office, not just for small pots of funding in the first year but also for support.
We ended the session having a taster of one of their student activities, Yorkshire Tea Tasting! How do you like yours?
The Home Office and Sopra Steria: The elephant in the room
The Home Office provided us with an overview of Immigration White Paper with insights into the future immigration system, looking at the current climate and addressed the difficulties with laws and policies. UKVI and Sopra Steria gave details of how the front end services work.
They acknowledged the elephant in the room and opened for questions, with numerous delegates raising valid concerns about practicalities of visa processing in the immediate peak season.
UKCISA is continuing to collate concerns from all our members and is now meeting with sector representatives and Sopra Steria on Tuesday to explain problems in detail. Please continue to send any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will report back to all members afterwards.