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Home AGM

Annual General Meeting 2018

Sections

Chair's report

AISA Executive

The Executive this year has consisted of:

  • Sally Saca - Oxford Brookes University, Co chair
  • Emma Gwynnett-Davies - University of Swansea, Co chair
  • Sarah Sherwin - University of Bristol, Secretary
  • Farooq Shah – Swansea University, Treasurer
  • Jessica Scott - University of Bath, Regions Coordinator
  • David Barrott - University of Sheffield
  • Atif Butt - University of the Arts
  • Kate Walker - Kings College London
  • Bethan Ovens - London School of Economics
  • Polly Penter – City University
  • Kris Deng – Salford University
  • Will Burton - UKCISA attending member

Strategic objectives 2018/9

  1. To introduce a new website platform which should be ready to show colleagues at the UKCISA conference. The aim is for it to allow our members to communicate, share ideas and build a tool kit that only members can access.
  2. To increase our membership by exploring new ways members can pay for their AISA subscription creating better opportunities for colleagues to join us and take part in our events and regional meetings.
  3. To continue to support our regions.
  4. To provide training which can enable ISA’s to skill themselves up and participate in wider discussions within their Institutions.
  5. Contributing to the lobbying that is carried out by UKCISA by gaining views from our members that are working directly with international students and feeding them into meetings with UKCISA and via the UKCISA Executive Board.

Key outputs

  1. The results of the ballot relating to the move to an institutional membership subscription process received and an overwhelming majority in favour. The new process commenced for this year’s subscriptions and an amendment made to the AISA constitution.
  2. Training days ‘EU Settlement’ at Oxford Brookes University (22 January) and Woburn House, London (12 February).
  3. Pilot of regional email support groups in the South West Region.
  4. AISA Annual Conference, ‘A Game of Two Halves’ (immigration in the morning and student mental health in the afternoon) 10 May 2019
  5. New updated website.

Training

Our training days in January and February on the EU Settlement Scheme were popular and well attended with 68 attending across the two venues. Feedback included members saying that they enjoyed sharing ideas and knowledge with colleagues and that the content and structure of the day were excellent.

Newsletter

The latest version of AISA Connect dated May 2019 is available on the AISA website.

Representation

A member of the AISA exec attending the UKCISA Board meetings.

Emma Gwynnett-Davies and Sally Saca
AISA Executive Co Chairs
April 2018

Treasurer's report

For the last three years, AISA is ending their financial year with a surplus and net reserve of over £12,000. The balance at the start of 2018 was £12,547. The total income in 2018 was £13,300 with a total expenditure of £12,657 therefore AISA had a surplus of £642 in 2018. The year ended with a net balance of £13,190.

AISA Executives organised one training sessions and a conference in 2018. Both events generated a combined surplus of £2071. The membership income of £9380 was slightly lower than £9970 received in 2017. Following a consultation with members, AISA executive agreed to change the individual membership to institutional membership at the annual rate of £120 per institute. Due to this transition, currently there is a drop in membership fees income in the first quarter of 2019 (i.e. £3590), therefore, committee would need to work on ways to recruit new members. There was no significant difference in costs to UKCISA, Regional meeting expenses and Executive committee expenses, however, there was an increase in publicity expenses which rose from £118 in 2017 to £1044 in 2018. This was mainly due to AISA promotional activities at the UKCISA conference in 2018.

If you would like to look at the AISA annual accounts in more detail, these will be available in the Resources section of the website.

Finally, I would like to thank Judy Theophanous, Finance Administrator at UKCISA for all her help with our financial affairs and to William Burton for his continued administrative support with our activities.

Farooq Shah
AISA Executive Treasurer
April 2019

Regions report

There continue to be 5 active ASIA regions meeting twice, sometimes three times a year. There are currently 273 AISA members (individuals) and numbers have encouragingly increased this year. There is a drop in the number of institutions represented this year, however this may be as a result of the recent change in AISA membership from individual to institutional. We will have a clearer picture next year on how this may have impacted membership numbers. There continues to be limited representation from FE institutions and colleagues.

Regional chairs have been asked this year to circulate attendance registers at meetings. This has been implemented successfully and has helped to improve processes for monitoring attendance in line with rolling out the new institutional membership, which allows for 3 members from one institution to attend before additional fees are charged.

Discussions this year have centred on some of the significant changes to the work of International Student Advisers which we have seen this year. This has included much discussion around the impact of Brexit and how and when to best advise students, changes to the leave to remain application process and the introduction of UKVI’s new Front End Services, changes to ATAS coding and the impact of GDPR on OISC compliance. OISC compliance has also surfaced as an ongoing concern for members. One region has run a workshop to gather information on how different institutions ensure they are consistently meeting the OISC code of standards.

There has also been a notable interest in compliance and other issues affecting postgraduate research students.

Guest speakers have included staff from UKVI (PCST) and the British Council.

Immigration and the sharing of good practice to manage immigration rules and UKVI process changes remain the main focus at meetings, with regional chairs continuing to report how helpful this support is for attendees, noting how engaged everyone is in lively discussion.

Non-immigration matters discussed have centred on welcome events and communicating with students, as well as the balancing of international student experience and compliance at member institutions.

London and South East

Chair: Christian Adams

London and South East met on 11th June 2018 at the University of Brighton, 29th October 2018 at Imperial College London and 20th March 2019 also at Imperial College London. The June meeting was attended by 31 members and the March meeting 33. At both meetings 21 institutions were represented.

Topics at the June meeting included the impending changes to established processes such as data protection (GDPR), ATAS and HECOS codes and the leave to remain application process (t this time, there was still a lack of clarity about how the new library system would work in practice).

The meeting in October focussed again on the changes to the leave to remain application processes and the lack of clarity received. The impact of the changes to ATAS requirements were also discussed, and how institutions were dealing with the requirement for ATAS for any length of course. It was also noted that more low risk applications were receiving spot checks of documents this year since the widening of the Tier 4 pilot and the addition of China to appendix H of the immigration rules. Growing concerns about the impact of Brexit were also keenly discussed.

The most recent meeting was in March 2019 and discussions centred on experiences with the Sopra Steria service and issues with the online application forms as well as Brexit and messaging students about travel around the Brexit date. The new International Education Strategy was noted with interest as well as concerns around how student sport activities are affected by the recent clarifications from the Home Office regarding the definition of a professional sportsperson.

The next meeting for this region will be in June 2019.

North & Midlands

Chair: Joanna MacSween

The North and Midlands region met on 7th November 2018 at University College Birmingham and on 29th April 2019 at the University of Liverpool. 14 members attended the November meeting (representing 13 institutions).

Helen Clews from the British Council attended the November meeting to provide an update on British Council activity and information on safety. There followed some interesting discussions around a wide range of different topics, including GDPR, hardship funds, Christmas activities, airport welcomes and full time study for PGR students. Concerns were raised about the implementation of the new digital service from Sopra Steria. Some members had visited the service points and noted a lack of awareness amongst staff which caused concern given imminent roll out dates. Other concerns about the additional services and costs were discussed as well as time frames. The group also discussed advice provision at their institutions for Tier 2, which varied across the group dependant on capacity and staff knowledge and for non-UK visas, which most institutions offer basic advice and referral on.

The April meeting had a similarly broad range of agenda items, including supporting EEA students, UKVCAS centres, the provision of pre-arrival information (whether or not it is all online now), welcome week for international students, checking student credibility before issuing a CAS, new proposed attendance monitoring requirements, relationships between advice and compliance staff at institutions and the new Start-Up route.

Southwest and Wales

Chair: Abbie Lacey

South West and Wales met on 4th May 2018 at the University of Exeter and 16th November 2018 at Cardiff Met University. The next meeting is on 7th June at the University of Swansea. The May meeting was attended by 19 members.

Discussions at the May meeting focussed on OISC requirements and HEI approaches to compliance, as well as advisers accessing OISC training. The University of Exeter and Bath Spa University ran a workshop to identify content for a best practice / practical guide to implementing the Code of Standards for use by advisers. Short term study, webinars for communicating with students, BRP errors and replacements and PG placements were also discussed with interest amongst the group.

Key topics in November were the surge period and how institutions manage their advice delivery, checking documents for low risk applications, losing the Cardiff premium postal service that the region had benefited from in recent years, BRP errors, EU settlement scheme applications and online booking for police registration.

North East

Chair: Joanne Harrison & Fang Zheng

The North East region met on 4th June 2018 at the University of Newcastle and 29th November 2018 at Leeds Beckett University. 15 members attended both meetings (representing 11 institutions).

There were two UKVI guest speakers at the June meeting – Neil Fletcher (Manager of the Business & Education Account Managers) and Sonjia Shilhan (Licence Manager , PCST region 2). Neil provided an overview on the Front End Services for all PBS applications, whilst Sonjia provided some clarification on specific immigration points such as attendance monitoring for part time Tier 4 students and the IHS fee increase. The group then discussed a range of immigration related issues such as OISC and GDPR, PGR visa extensions and advice service provisions.

In November, key topics included the new online application process for leave to remain applications and experiences of the new Front End Service. Several institutions had visited the service points and noted that students were being asked to upload documents even if they had already done so.

South Coast

Chair: Päivi Leivo

This region have had 3 meetings this year – 14th June 2018 at the University of Portsmouth, 13th November 2018 at the Arts University Bournemouth and 7th February 2019 at the University of Winchester. 7 institutions were represented at the first 2 meetings and 6 at the third, with 10 members attending in June, 11 in November and 8 in February.

The first meeting centred on reports from the AISA conference and Tier 4 PCST meetings. Many had not attended these meetings so the discussions were particularly useful. Non-immigration topics such as welcome events and safety were discussed. Subjects such as charging fees, integration with home students and communication (eg using social media) to students on safety issues created lively discussion.

In November there was more of a focus on immigration issues such as the new Front End Service for leave to remain applications, EU settlement scheme applications and which sporting activities are considered ‘professional’ for Tier 4 students.

The EU settlement scheme and sports activities continued to be key topics at the February meeting.

Meeting dates and summaries

These will continue to be posted on the AISA website.

Thank you from the AISA Executive Committee

The AISA Executive Committee would like to thank all the Regional Chairs for their continued hard work and commitment throughout the year to AISA and the regions.

Thanks also to both UKCISA and the UKVI for their support to AISA.

Finally, our thanks go to all AISA members for attending regional meetings and sharing their expertise and concerns with fellow advisers in a supportive environment. The AISA Executive Committee welcomes contributions from all our members on how we can work together and support each other.

Jessica Scott
AISA Executive Regional Co-ordinator
April 2019