Friday 16-10-2015 - 11:24
It’s a tough time for international students in the UK. The current government has taken many steps to create barriers for them at every stage of life in the UK.
In 2013, the Home Secretary created a series of policies which she said were aimed at creating a ’hostile environment for illegal immigrants’. The policies introduced since have had a negative impact on society as a whole, and have contributed to all migrants, including international students, feeling under attack and unwelcome.
The continual damage
A significant step in this direction was the scrapping of the post-study work visa in 2012, which had previously allowed students to stay in the UK and work for up to two years after graduation. This took away the right of international students to gain vital work experience after their studies.
International students have also been hit by charges for NHS treatment, the introduction of biometric identity cards and landlord immigration checks. On top of that, they are expected pay extortionate university tuition fees – up to four times as much as UK students on some courses – which can rise without notice.
The government introduced rules in July 2015, which created a series of further restrictions on international students. These included restricting the right of international students to change courses, preventing spouses and dependents from taking on most types of employment and removing the right of international students studying in colleges to take up employment, to name a few. In addition to this, the austerity measures have hit provisions that are desperately needed by migrants such as vital English language courses.
The Immigration Act 2015 passed its second reading in parliament this week, and holds the prospect of yet further detrimental policies. Examples include the national roll-out of racist Right to Rent landlord immigration checks. The future, under this government, looks bleak for international students.
The NUS International Students Campaigns sees these actions as overt attacks on international students, and believes they must be opposed. Specific assaults on some of the most vulnerable students who have to pay extortionate living expenses and fees, and are faced with consistent barriers at times of employment and accommodation are unacceptable.
This is an example of how the government distracts the public by scapegoating the most vulnerable in society. However, we are seeing time and time again that the British public is not falling for this and is still in touch with its values of freedom and justice for the oppressed, and is not afraid to voice it.
In September, tens of thousands of people showed their objection to these policies and marched in support of refugees. It is time we bring these actions to our campuses. The mistreatment of all migrants is linked, and it is time we stand up and show solidarity with all migrants.
We are planning on taking this a step further and bringing it onto our campuses.
What can you do?
On 17 November, all across the UK, at colleges and universities, students will be walking out of their classes to show their opposition to these discriminatory policies and to stand in solidarity with all migrants.
NUS will be hosting, in the run-up to the day of solidarity, the first International Students Activists Network. This network will help officers and activists who are international students build their skills and knowledge on how to campaign around their experiences. Ensure that your unions sends activists and officers to the network. Registration will open next week on NUS connect.
More information and videos will follow on specific actions you can do on your campuses on the Day of Solidarity.
Join the movement.
The ‘hostile environment’ that is being created is hostile for us all.
For more information on the Day of Solidarity contact firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.nus.org.uk/students4migrants