Monday, 24 November 2014
Our Future Free from Racism? International Students: milked like cows, treated like criminals
International students bring in tens of billions annually to the UK economy. They generate over 130,000 jobs. They are quite literally a lifeline to the further and higher education sector in Scotland the UK. If every international student were to pack up and leave, not only would colleges and universities be facing an unprecedented crisis, but the economy more generally would take an enormous blow.
You’d think, given how much the Tories tell us about balancing the books, that they’d be bending over backwards to make this country attractive and welcoming to international students. But something else is at play.
Once here, paying tens of thousands in fees, international students are treated like criminals. They’re prevented from working, they’re forced to register with the police, they’re subjected to racism and abuse, and – unless they’re rich enough – they’re kicked out once they finish studying.
To make matters worse, this Government’s reckless obsession with the private sector has put thousands of international students in jeapardy. Letting private colleges run rampant – at public expense – has brought a spotlight onto what’s called Highly Trusted Status – an institution’s ability to recruit students from outside the EU. When colleges and universities have this removed, as London Met famously did a few short years ago and dozens more did earlier this year, the students are told to get out. They pay the price for this Government’s ideology and their institutions failing.
But this makes no sense, does it? This Government’s back-of-a-fag-packet immigration policy is built, at best, on mistrust, at worst on outright xenophobia and racism. UK ministers focus more on pandering to UKIP than any objective approach to society’s needs. They’ve promised, indefensibly, to cut immigration to below 100,000, and international students are baring a huge portion of the brunt for that.
But immigrants, and international students, bring enormous value to our society – not just financially, but culturally and socially. It is in our interests – but even if it wasn’t, a country that’s colonised half the world hardly has the right to now tell people they’re not welcome here.
Our colleges and universities have a massive role to play in lobbying and arguing for an approach to international students based on fairness and tolerance, and it’s the student and labour movement that will make them do that.
President of NUS Scotland