Friday 24-07-2015 - 18:05
On 13 July, the Home Office announced changes to immigration laws that will dramatically affect international students. We were made aware that the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee of the House of Lords would be looking at these changes on 21 July and that we had until the morning of 20 July to provide evidence as to how these changes would affect our members. NUS’ response was drafted in time and submitted.
I have made a video in which I've explained some of the most important changes and what actions we can take around them. I have also included a sample Students' Union statement and a sample letter to an MP, so students can take action immediately.
The committee’s response was released on 23 July and it seems our efforts have convinced some of its members that these changes will have a significant negative impact on students and that due process had not been followed. The committee specifically referenced NUS' submission and highlighted the complete lack of consultation with students on these changes:
"We find the Home Office's failure to consult with the broad range of relevant bodies affected by the change particularly regrettable in light of the critical yet constructive tone of the correspondence we have received."
In reference to our contribution to the case the report states “the Committee has received letters from the National Union of Students (NUS) and Study UK ... The letters list a number of unintended consequences which the organisations state they would have pointed out to the Home Office and could have been addressed had they been consulted.”
It follows by stating, “the NUS letter focuses on how the change to the rules about maintenance sums and working will affect those in the middle of a course, particularly medical students moving from study to a placement, and those for whom work experience is an essential part of their accreditation. It also warns that changes to the rules around dependents of Tier 4 students working is likely to deter postgraduates from conducting research in the UK. Finally, it illustrates the way that restricting Further Education studies to two years will deter up to 50% of non-EU students who often need an English course before their formal two-year course begins.”
When referencing the policy's accusations against students and colleges and their assertion that there will be little to no negative impact on the sector, the report reads “It is disappointing and surprising that the Home Office did not supply figures in the EM to explain the scope and rationale for its policy…the Home Office, however, has been reluctant to provide any evidence to inform the House about the likely numbers involved and the impact on the tertiary education sector."
Although this in itself won’t stop the changes from being implemented, it gives us backing to challenge the Home Office’s proposals further. In light of this announcement it is important for every single one of us to contact our MPs, explaining what the situation is and highlighting the outcome of the scrutiny committee. We should be asking our MPs to ‘pray against’ the changes, to support a proper debate and consultation on these rules which will negatively affect so many of our international students. If enough MPs do so, the changes have to be debated in parliament and that gives us the opportunity to see these unacceptable measures voted down.
Spread the word and let’s make sure every single MP in the house of commons gets to know about this and steps up for us.