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International Students' Day: from parliament to the streets

Tuesday 15-11-2016 - 11:20

November 17 is International Students' Day. It is a day to commemorate the anniversary of storming of the University of Prague by Nazis in 1939 where students were rounded up, nine student leaders were murdered and over 1,200 sent to concentration camps.

Last year, on this day, we highlighted the importance of the diversity of our campuses by calling a ‘National Day of Solidarity’, asking international students and their allies to walk out of their classes in protest to the treatment of international students, migrants, asylum seekers and refugees by the government.

This year, we will be taking our questions, grievances, requests and demands to the Houses of Parliament.

Today (November 15), we will be at the House of Lords to take part in the first All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Students gathering. Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation will be in attendance to respond to questions and listen to remarks made by the Higher and Further Education sector representatives alongside us.

Tomorrow, thanks to Stuart McDonald, MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, a 90 minute Westminster Hall debate will be taking place on the subject of the immigration rules and international students. This is designed to coincide with international student day the following day. 

On November 17, we will be back in the House of Lords for another gathering of the APPG for international students. This time, attendees will be hearing from us, actual international students! I will be delivering the keynote speech and international students who will be accompanying me will have the opportunity to speak their mind to MPs, peers from the House of Lords and representatives from other sector bodies.

It is extremely important that a significant number of MPs from across the political spectrum are present at both of these events. Please email/tweet them, asking them to take part so they would have a better understanding about what is happening to international students, our universities and our colleges.

The height of our actions to extend and express solidarity with international students and wider migrant communities will be the National Demonstration: 'United for Education'. One of the key elements of the demonstration are international students and migrants rights. Reversing the devastating attacks on the rights of international students and migrants, justice for over 50,000 victims of the Home Office's witch hunt on those who have taken the TOEIC test and scrapping the 'net migration target' are some of the actions the government can and should take to start addressing our grievances and concerns.

This video explains why this demo is so important to international students and why you should all be there and bring along as many people as you can.

The latest of the government's attacks on international students was announced by the Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP at the Conservative Party Conference last month. It seeks to divide educational institutions based on 'quality of teaching' -most likely based on the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), and have different rules for them when it comes to recruiting international students. The consultation, which our experience tells us is going to be wholly ignored, is due to be open very soon. We are in the process of coming up with a concrete action plan to influence the outcome of this process by putting public pressure on the government before, during and after the consultation using a variety of tactics.

Start a conversation with your institution now, expressing your concerns about the proposals and start drawing up a joint approach, opposing such measures. 

And lastly, on February 20, a national day of action has been called so the public can stand in solidarity with migrants and highlight all that they bring into our communities. 'One Day Without Us' is asking migrants and allies to withdraw their labour and presence from public life on this day to show how wildly different society would look like without us.

The International Students' Campaign is taking a motion to the next National Executive Council (NEC) which I believe will pass with overwhelming majority so we can mobilise students across the country to be at the heart of this day of action.

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