Page last updated at 09:37 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 10:37 UK

Foreign students: Identity cards

The UK Border Agency is to issue the first identity cards to foreign nationals who officials say are most at risk of abusing immigration rules - non-EU students and those on a marriage or civil partnership visa.

But how do foreign students feel about carrying identity cards and being targeted as "risk" categories?

WON JAE, 20, FROM KOREA, STUDYING PSYCHOLOGY AT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON (UCL)

Won Jae from Korea, studying at UCL

I think it would be OK to carry an identity card, so long as it wasn't discriminatory.

At the moment if I go anywhere off campus I have to carry my passport as my identity, for example if I am buying alcoholic drinks, so it would be better to have a card. So long as it's not discriminating me against UK people, it's fine.

DHAVIT CHALAVAK, 23, THAILAND, MA IN INTERNATIONAL LAW, SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES (SOAS)

DHAVIT CHALAVAK, 23 from THAILAND

There are pros and cons to identity cards. As a student, I already have to apply for a visa, which is a real hassle because you need all sorts of documents.

That's enough - I'm not sure why there is need for any more.

The downside of identity cards is your privacy can be violated if the government knows too much about you.

But it depends what the card includes - if it has debit or credit functionality, incorporates student discounts or has other privileges that make life easier, I'd prefer it.

If it's just about knowing who you are, there are no benefits for me, apart from maybe protection against fraud or if I wanted to get a job here.

We have them in Thailand. They are perfectly OK - I'd just like to make sure no-one took advantage.

AJAY MADIWALE AND PIYALI BHATTACHARYA , FROM US, BOTH 23, STUDYING FOR MASTERS AT SOAS

AJAY MADIWALE and PIYALI BHATTACHARYA

Ajay Madiwale, is studying for an Msc in violence, conflict and development.

"I find the idea of carrying an ID card everywhere creepy. I wouldn't like to be required to have it on me all the time.

"I'm undecided about them - clearly the government has the right to do it and I can see the rationale, but I hope they have the policy mechanisms in place not to criminalise people who don't have their card on them and make it difficult or get caught up in technicalities.

"People should have 48 hours to produce their card at a police station".

Piyali Bhattacharya, is studying for an MA in cultural and media studies.

"It seems a little unfair for the government to make assumptions about students.

"Our visa regulations already allow us to work here for a year after we graduate and we can work 20 hours a week while we study.

"The rules for visas are so strict - and extremely inconvenient - identity cards seem redundant."

AMMAD ANWAL, 19, PAKISTAN, CIVIL ENGINEERING AT UCL

Ammad Anwal

I don't think it's important to carry an identity card - there's no need. A college card is enough.

But I can see why there are targeting students, I think there is a possibility some might slip into the "black market".

We do have identity cards in Pakistan though, we get them at 18 and need them to travel and for military checkpoints.

SADAT JAMIL, 23, BANGLADESH, LAW AT UNIVERSITY OF LONDON

Sadat Jamil

There is a real need for foreign national identity cards. If you are lost here or have problems, showing a card to police or people could help.

But I think it's unfair to target students. People come here to study.

You can't get this level of facilities or teachers at home. You have to grow your career where you can. I will go where I can get the best career.

We get national identity cards in Bangladesh at 18. Their main use is to vote in elections. They have a photographic identification, but no chip.

ADEL ALDURAIHEM, 30, SAUDI ARABIA, MA PRENATAL GENETIC AND FETAL MEDICINE, UCL

ADEL ALDURAIHEM

I think the government should start with UK people, after that ask foreign nationals. But identity cards would be helpful. If I go anywhere where they ask for identification, I have to take my passport.

In Saudi Arabia we get cards at 15. They have a picture, but also a national number that belongs to you. If the government asks you, you have a number.

If you want to buy anything expensive, like a car or a house, you have to show your card.

But over here I have trouble even getting a phone. I tried to buy a phone with a contract for a year, they wanted bank statements dating back six months.

I only came here one week ago, but I'm staying for one year. I don't think they trusted me to pay.

So now I am using a pay as you go and getting a friend to buy it for me, he's been in the UK for longer.

MI-YOUNG PARK, 24, KOREA, ENGLISH AT OXFORD HOUSE COLLEGE, LONDON
Mi Young, studied english at a language school on oxford street, london

I think we need identity cards to buy things like alcohol or cigarettes. I have tried to show my Korean card, but they won't accept it, so I have to carry my passport around with me which is really dangerous.

But I'm not staying in London for much longer, I'm applying to Emirates to be a flight attendant.

OLUMIDE MAKINDE, 26, NIGERIA, POSTGRADUATE IN MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, UCL

I'd like to know the rationale behind identity cards, what are they trying to achieve?

They might be good, it wouldn't be so embarrassing if people or police wanted to know who you were, you could show them the card, provided there were no strings attached. But they shouldn't be discriminatory.

And my personal opinion is that for students it's fine, but for marriages or civil partnerships, it's not.



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SEE ALSO
Foreign national ID card unveiled
25 Sep 08 |  UK Politics

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