Asking guest speakers to produce a passport: Hertfordshire front runners to top Silliest Uni league table

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For some time now, a lot of British universities have asked external examiners to show a passport. This is, apparently, the result of government immigration regulations, which require employers to show that all employees have the right to work in the UK.

It’s a very silly interpretation of immigration law, which universities could happily ignore. Illegal immigrants don’t usually end up examining at universities; and the fee – usually in the region of £150-£200 – is hardly an incentive to people smugglers. But some human resources directors enjoy frightening themselves, and their senior managers, with fearful warnings of what ‘could‘ go wrong.

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The University of St Andrews tries to persuade its staff that it has made a sensible decision

We now seem to have an even sillier refinement of this precautionary approach. Jonathan Webber, Reader in Philosophy at Cardiff University, tweeted this week that the University of Hertfordshire had cancelled two invited talks because he objected to providing a scan of his passport.

The requirement to produce the passport was apparently introduced long after the talks had been arranged. The upshot is that Hertfordshire’s staff and students will miss two talks (one on the nature of shame, and one on the ethics of lying and misleading), and not a single illegal immigrant will be deterred.

It would be nice to see a league table for silliest university decisions. So far Hertfordshire looks like hands-down winner for 2016.

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4 thoughts on “Asking guest speakers to produce a passport: Hertfordshire front runners to top Silliest Uni league table

  1. It would seem that establishments in the far flung corners of the empire are struck by this problem. Cardiff, Hertfordshire and St Andrews in particular are difficult places to get to and are more than likely grateful for the publicity.

  2. Reblogged this on Disturbing the Universe and commented:
    According to a colleague there this is being excused on the basis of needing to know who is on campus. As if that would ever be possible.

    Yes, Hertfordshire is definitely the silliest university of the year, and likely to get sillier as they really don’t understand why this is stupid.

    And they may just have lost me as an external examiner as well. I’d encourage others to consider this as a way of putting a stop to this idiocy.

  3. Pingback: Asking for passports: dafter – and more worrying – than I’d thought | thelearningprofessor

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