Government Rejects Appeal of NUS Campaign
In answer to a National Union of Students (NUS) campaign that fought for the rights of international students in the UK, the Home Office has replied with letters to all those who signed the petition. In response to claims that there are "overly harsh conditions on studying in the UK", the Home Office reply argues that "we have a great offer to attract the best international students".
'Give the Home Office the Yellow Card'
It all started in February this year, when the NUS began a campaign headed by International Students Officer Daniel Stevens that encouraged people to ‘Give the Home Office the Yellow Card'. The NUS argued that:
"It is clear that international students are being treated ever more increasingly as a political football... We are showing the Home Office the yellow card - and calling on them to improve their treatment of those students from across the world who choose to study here - in particular by calling on them to work with NUS, UUK and UKBA to establish a code of conduct setting out basic standards in working with international students."
Over 1,000 people have since signed the petition which automatically sent letters to Home Secretary Theresa May and the petitioner's local MP. ForeignStudents.com joined the number who signed the petition and yesterday received a letter from Sheryl Jones on behalf of the Home Secretary.
In the letter, Ms Jones argues that "those with the right qualifications, sufficient funds to cover their fees and maintenance costs and a good level of English can study here, with no annual limit on numbers". She goes on to detail the benefits that international students currently enjoy when studying in the UK, including the right to work part-time during studies and then stay in the country after graduation "providing they get a graduate level job paying £20,300 a year or more".
Migration Statistics Disagreement
Through their campaign, the NUS also expressed their concern that "the poor treatment of international students reflects the government's stated aim to reduce net migration", and therefore called for students to be removed from net migration statistics.
However, this appeal was dismissed in the Home Office's response, as it has been a number of times in the last six months. Ms Jones states in her letter:
"Net migration measures the difference between the number of people coming to the UK and the number leaving, so if students return home after their studies, their impact on long-term net migration will be minimal...Changing the way we measure migration would not make any difference to our student migration policy."
Many critics would refute this last claim, as indeed ForeignStudents.com has on numerous occasions.
However, the letter ends on a note that we can back far more easily, with Ms Jones emphasising that "the challenge now is to ensure the strength of [the UK's] offer [to international students] is communicated and understood". The issue of poor communication has been one we have repeatedly put in the spotlight, so we welcome the fact that the Home Office now appears to recognise the importance of it.
Though there is clearly much work still to be done to protect the rights of international students in the UK, things are moving in the right direction. In a further encouraging development, it was announced today that both the House of Commons and House of Lords will soon be debating the previous recommendations that international students be removed from the government's net migration target.
You can download and read the full letter of response on the attachments below.