Unis Resist Border Controls accuse the University of 'migrant washing' their complicity in the Hostile EnvironmentGlobal Justice Now

Two Cambridge departments, Cambridge Centre for Data Driven Discovery (C2D3) and Cambridge Neuroscience, advertised jobs at the Border Vision Advisory Group, which describes itself as an “operational command of the Home Office.”

C2D3 brings “together researchers and expertise from across the academic departments and industry to drive research into the analysis, understanding and use of data science.”

The adverts were circulated via email on the 5th October before being posted online within each of the departments looking for “academic experts” to help construct “innovative border technology.”

The advert read: “Border Force (BF) is an operational command of the Home Office which is responsible for securing the UK border and for controlling migration at ports and airports across the UK and overseas. The work on the development of a Border Code is part of work under the Future Borders and Immigration Systems (FBIS) and Digitising the Borders (DtB) Border Intervention work and is being taken forward by the Border Force Industry Partnerships Team.”

It continued: “this is an opportunity for academic experts to work with BF and the wider Home Office to drive theoretical research into propositions for cutting edge border solutions.”

The adverts were deleted after pressure was put on both departments by Unis Resist Border Controls, a national campaign of migrant students, activists and lecturers fighting against the hostile environment.

Unis Resist Border Controls urged their members to send a template email addressed to C2D3 which read: “it is deeply shameful that the Cambridge Centre for Data Driven Discovery would even entertain circulating emails and working with the Home Office.”

“Any knowledge that your centre shares with the Home Office would make you complicit in the deaths that have happened as a result of this country’s xeno-racist border regime, including the hostile environment policy.”

In addition to this Unis Resist Borders demanded “that the Cambridge Centre for Data Driven Discovery refrain from working with the Home Office, UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) and any other instrument furthering border controls, whether here in the UK, or in other countries”.

The same letter was sent to Cambridge Neuroscience.

In conversation with Varsity, a spokesperson for Unis Resist Border Controls said that “academia does play a role in furthering the Prison and Industrial Complex around the world” and accused the University of using decolonisation and the Legacies of Enslavement enquiry to “migrant wash their complicity in policies and participating in partnerships with Home Office that strengthens borders the hostile environment policy.”

The spokesperson urged students to look “within their own backyard” in their fight against oppression, adding that “your university has been complicit in this for many years”.

They highlighted that the hostile environment policy affects academic staff on Tier 2 and 5 visas at Cambridge through the attendance monitoring that is a requirement of the policy.

Under the policy the University is required to collect and collate information on attendance at University events before sending it to the Home Office who trace the information and get in touch with the University if there are any discrepancies.


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The Unis Resist Border Controls spokesperson drew attention to the fact that it was C2D3 and Cambridge Neuroscience that were advertising for the Home Office suggesting that these departments were the most useful for establishing the digitising of border controls and “blanket surveillance” that the Conservatives desire.

Most international students are on a Tier 4 visa which means, according to Unis Resist Border Controls, that they “face housing discrimination, employment discrimination, no recourse to public funds, and have to pay to access the NHS.”

C2D3, Cambridge Neuroscience and the University were contacted for comment