The UK’s new drain of talent: The £3,000 cash bond for visitors from South Asia and West Africa

The move has added to the sense of unease among ethnic minority (BME) communities, already roused by the government’s 'go home' vans

Share
Related Topics

Shahrukh Khan, the Bollywood legend, once remarked that whenever he needed to rein in his arrogance, he would travel to the US: ‘The immigration guys would kick the star out of my stardom’.  But the everyday indignity of airport immigration pales in comparison to the deep humiliation the current UK government seeks to inflict on citizens of states who are part of its ‘non-white’ Commonwealth. 

Next year, we will be commemorating the centenary of the Great War –a conflict in which around 1.3 million South Asians and West Africans were mobilised and around 65,000 lost their lives.  But before that, we will be expecting the citizens of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana to pay a £3,000 cash bond to enter the UK. 

Very quickly friends’ and colleagues’ Twitter and Facebook feeds were sharing the cartoon of an Indian immigration official fining a suitably attired UK immigrant in India for ‘overstaying by 250 years’.  From the perspective of my profession the joke has a darker side.  The rules threaten long-standing research collaborations with these countries for the UK’s Higher Education sector.  Visitors from these states share the cultures and languages of the UK’s most demographically significant minorities, and have contributed greatly to its economic, cultural and scientific successes.  My last two publicly funded research projects and the last dozen UK based conferences I have attended, would have been impossible without the relatively free movement of colleagues from India.

But there are more troubling implications.  The move has added to the sense of unease among the most important ethnic minority (BME) communities and residents of these countries, already roused by the government’s ‘go home’ vans, and who inevitably see this as a draconian and arguably racist measure. 

Although Cameron’s visit to India in 2011 acknowledged the importance of the region for UK trade, retaliation is likely, making academic, cultural and business links difficult in both directions.  My concerns are shared by a large number of academics in all fields, and it is for this reason that we have decided to start a petition and open letter to the Home Secretary.  Already, leading researchers, teachers and academics across UK institutions have offered to sign.

Theresa May stated that ‘In the long run, we are interested in a system of bonds that deters overstaying and recovers costs if a foreign national has used our public services.’ Yet there is very little evidence that stable levels of immigration and out-migration have a significant effect on the cost of public services or the public purse.   Indeed, as a recent OECD study has shown, immigrants in the wealthy nations of Europe do not have a negative fiscal impact.  If anything, overall, their contribution to the public purse is very mildly positive.

Public debate on immigration is repeatedly used as a forum for political neurosis and national outrage, and is therefore rarely nuanced.  But ignoring detailed research on its effects threatens our ability to adapt to a changing demography in which the working population is declining in relation to retirees. In the longer term, a growing and healthy economy should encourage successful working-age migrants, rather than deter them.

One of the greatest historians of the Indian subcontinent, fellow of a Cambridge college, who held an Indian passport, once told me of the repeated enquiries he faced at Heathrow about his ‘intentions’ on entering the UK.  Then, and still more today, I felt dismay at this blindness, and the thought of how poorly my country had come to terms with its imperial past.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Full Stack Software Developer - Javascript

£18000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Strategic Partnerships Coordinator

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Their research appears at the f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This exciting startup disruptin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

A promised 'women's museum' opens as a Jack the Ripper exhibit tonight, and I won't take it lying down

Becky Warnock
A protester wears a golden mask and Romanian flag during a demonstration in Bucharest against Gabriel Resources Rosia Montana gold and silver project  

Corporate vampires have tried to suck $4 billion out of Romania, and with TTIP the UK could be next

Kevin Smith
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen