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Academic's talk cancelled because he would not show his passport

(53 Posts)
Booboostwo Sat 05-Nov-16 08:42:53

This is truly outrageous. A philosopher's talk at Herts Uni was cancelled after he refused to show a copy of his passport. This is a British academic, from a British institution, giving a talk at a British institution (not that it matters). Since when do administrators decide academic lecture programmers on entirely arbitrary criteria involving requests for documents that are not even legally required?

Rochefort Sat 05-Nov-16 08:48:34


flumpybear Sat 05-Nov-16 08:49:43


Parietal Sat 05-Nov-16 08:50:13

I saw this on twitter. I believe emails / letters of protest to the VC are being written.

Parietal Sat 05-Nov-16 08:50:21

I saw this on twitter. I believe emails / letters of protest to the VC are being written.

flumpybear Sat 05-Nov-16 08:50:30

Unless it's an interview for a job of course!

Booboostwo Sat 05-Nov-16 09:04:13

It was two talks as part of the visiting speakers' program. He was invited, he accepted, a couple of weeks later he got a request for a copy of his passport, he refused, talks were cancelled. Herts Uni is trying to minimize this and blame him for not complying with internal procedures but this is a huge issue impacting on academic freedom and should be widely discussed.

LockedOutOfMN Sat 05-Nov-16 09:07:47

Well done to him for refusing. Did the university say why they "needed" this documentation?

Hoppinggreen Sat 05-Nov-16 09:09:06

Was he being paid?
I agree that it's ludicrous but I was recently asked by a Recruiter to show her my passport to prove I had the right to work in The UK. She agreed it was silly but she told me that she could be personally liable for a fine of up to £20000 ( her not her company) if it turned out I was actually NOT eligible.
If this IS the case then I would personally ask to see someone's passport before employing them, however silly that seemed

MaudGonneMad Sat 05-Nov-16 09:10:37

I read about this. He wasn't being paid - in fact Hertfordshire's own emails stated explicitly that this was NOT employment.

Ginmakesitallok Sat 05-Nov-16 09:11:01

If he's being paid then he needs to be prove that he can legally work in the UK. Nothing bizarre or appalling about that?

NotDavidTennant Sat 05-Nov-16 09:13:49

Just some jobsworth in HR over-zealously interpreting employment laws as applying to visiting speakers. I bet a stern phone call from the VC's office awaits them on Monday.

Rainbowshine Sat 05-Nov-16 09:44:34

If he was doing this as a self employed person he would still need to show eligibility to work in the UK for them, we do in our company. Fines and bad publicity for paying contractors huge sums of money if they aren't eligible is probably driving this. And yes, the person in this case does already work in the UK but each individual employer would need to have documents on file, you can't say to the Border Agency "oh he works for them so we thought it would be ok". It's the equivalent of Sainsbury's saying that the employee works for Tesco so we didn't need to check.

Rainbowshine Sat 05-Nov-16 09:46:53

Sorry I meant to add that the person asking may not be aware that it is unpaid, as well.

lightgreenglass Sat 05-Nov-16 09:50:20

They should be aware he wasn't getting paid. As they've now made a monumental cock up as he wasn't getting paid, therefore is not an employee.

user7214743615 Sat 05-Nov-16 09:53:40

For me, the most amusing thing about all this is that so many people (commenting on newspaper reports etc) take for granted that academics get paid for giving talks and that's why the passport was needed ..... hmm, no, we really don't get paid! We do so much "extra" work for free - reviewing for journals, advisory panels, talks at other universities, conferences etc.

LynetteScavo Sat 05-Nov-16 09:55:26

Nobody has to have a passport.

Mil has never had one, and is quite able to prove her eligibility to work in the U.K.

NotDavidTennant Sat 05-Nov-16 10:02:45

Although academic talks are generally unpaid, speakers sometimes will have their expenses covered so I wonder if this is where the confusion has come from?

slightlyglitterbrained Sat 05-Nov-16 10:03:18

It is absolutely not like the equivalent of Sainsburys saying an employee works for Tesco so they do not need to check.

This is someone who has no employment relationship demanding sensitive information. I would not send a scan of my passport to J Random institution.

AllPowerfulLizardPerson Sat 05-Nov-16 10:04:36

He's already an employee of a UK institution (Cardiff University) and previously of two others English universities.

As you are allowed to have foreign guest speakers, this is an enormous nonsense.

After all consultant employed by NHS trust A does not have to show passport to carry out a one-off procedure at a different hospital.

Booboostwo Sat 05-Nov-16 10:50:35

He was not being paid, this is standard for such academic talks. It is customary to cover the speaker's expenses but the speaker is warned to take the cheapest transport/accommodation options available as anything above that won't be reimbursed.

This is not a misunderstanding, I know him personally, and he was in discussion with the person making the request to understand why they were asking for his passport. If this had been a misunderstanding about paid work he would have clarified it directly.

Booboostwo Sat 05-Nov-16 10:53:07

What user72 said is also important.

I have done work for free organizing conferences, reviewing papers for conferences and journals, reviewing manuscripts for publishers, giving talks at other unis, giving talks in schools, museums, and other public venues, etc. It's considered part of the academic mission to share knowledge.

MaryField Sat 05-Nov-16 10:57:18

I've recently heard about something similar to this, can't remember the details now, and the explaination was to do with the risk of radicalisation apparently.

MaryField Sat 05-Nov-16 11:04:26

Meant to add a confused there...

chchchcherchanges Sat 05-Nov-16 21:04:09

That's ridiculous. Good for him.

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