international students

Giacomo's picture

The Under-Valuation of International Students in the UK

In a recent article on the Guardian's website titled: "UK universities failing to bridge culture gap for foreign students", Diane Schmitt criticises the admissions process at most British universities. She argues that universities in the UK often find their international students not "good enough" to start their careers in the academic institution they have chosen.

Schmitt argues that many foreign students are unable to adapt to the new academic system and to understand how things should be done in the UK. This sense of loss of comprehension among scholars is well represented in the image used on the Guardian's website to support the article. A group of international students are photographed attending a lecture, presumably at a university in the UK, and denote a sense of discomfort and being lost. However, who should be blamed for this uncomfortable situation of "being below the standards"?

According to the author of the article it is the centralised admission system which should pay more attention to the backgrounds of international students, rather then "just" considering their English exams, CVs, personal statements and letters of recommendations.

Erik's picture

Do English Language Exams Prove Anything?

Last week an article on the education section of the Guardian website questioned the suitability of the current English language tests for international students coming to study in the UK. Here, Erik- a Slovakian student living in London, gives his response to the article and the issue as a whole.

"It is very difficult, I would say impossible, to find an objective language test. Some phonetic and cultural aspects of a language can be learned only through extended interaction with the target community. Therefore, I think the best way would be to allow the students into the target community and evaluate their performance after several weeks. If it turns out that they cannot keep up with the workload because of the communication gap- they failed the language test. Regardless of their potential, they also have to prove a certain level of English proficiency.

However, such authentic testing is simply infeasible. The standardized tests were created, to offer equal conditions for everyone and they should make sure that the successful candidates are able to use English to a certain level. But no test can replace real life.

Foreign Students's picture

Boris Johnson Latest to Question Visa Restrictions

London Mayor Boris Johnson is the latest in a long line of prominent figures in Britain to question the government's decision to increase restrictions on student visas. Being a member of the Conservative party that introduced the new rules, the attack carries even more weight and shows the widespread concern over the changes.

The Mayor focussed on the financial side of the things, emphasising the importance of international students to Britain:

"[The visa changes] are not in the interests of London and the UK economy... We are losing a massive business opportunity here which is completely crazy for the UK market, which is brilliant at higher education, to be closing itself off from some of the best and brightest students from around the world."

The Mayor is making a week-long trip to India later this month, to visit New Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad in an attempt to further develop economic ties with the country. He revealed that whilst there, one of the main issues he'll be discussing will be the recent student visa changes and that he hopes to gain "ammunition" to support his argument against them.

Whilst admitting that a tougher immigration policy in Britain may be needed, he argued that current restrictions are going about it in completely the wrong manner:

Foreign Students's picture

David Miliband Slams Student Visa Restrictions

David Miliband has slammed the recent government changes to the visa system that make it harder for international students to study in the UK. Speaking to Times Higher Education, the ex-foreign secretary argued that the changes are "curtailing the attractiveness of British higher education, [and] doing a great injury to our future".

International students have recently been dragged in to the immigration debate in the UK, due to the fact they are currently counted in the regular net migration figures. This has been a problem ever since the government pledged to cut immigration to under 100,000- a policy Mr Miliband called a "political slogan" rather than a "sensible" immigration policy.

Prominent figures in higher education have been arguing that international students should not be counted in these figures, though so far these calls have fallen on deaf ears. Instead Prime Minister David Cameron has introduced a number of new restrictions on both study and post-study work visas for non-EU students.

Mr Miliband has questioned the wisdom of such policies, saying:

Foreign Students's picture

Record Numbers of Early University Applications

Early applications to certain courses and universities in England have been higher than ever before UCAS has revealed. Despite increased tuition fees, applications to Oxford and Cambridge universities as well as dentistry, medicine and veterinary courses are up 2% on last year.

These universities and courses have an earlier deadline for students than all others, with a cut off point of 15th October for applications. That didn't stop almost 57,000 hopeful candidates from applying and UCAS chief executive Mary Curnock Cook revealed she "remains optimistic about overall demand in the 2013 cycle".

Big Foreign Student Increases

Of the extra students, it is EU and international student numbers that have increased the most. Applications from Europe rose 1.8% on last year, whilst the international student applications increased a sizable 5.1%. This increase is in spite of the stricter visa laws that have been introduced over the past few years and shows quite how desirable the UK still is as a place of study.

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