International students have existed as part of the UK education system for hundreds of years and have carved a place on our campuses that cannot be replaced. They make up 20 per cent of our student population. This is not including the countless international researchers and academics that make vital contributions to the world-leading British education system.
However over the past few years International Students have experienced a series of policies that has made them feel under attack and unwelcome in the UK. During this time international students have had their access to work restricted, charges being introduced for access to NHS treatment, the introduction of biometric identity cards, landlord immigration checks, and more.
All students, regardless of nationality, should be free to study without fear of deportation or the injustice of being denied the same rights as their British counterparts.
International students make up 40 per cent of net migration into the UK, constituting a significant and important proportion of migrant communities. What is happening to those communities will be felt by our international students. In a post-Brexit atmosphere, the rise in hate crime and xenophobia experienced by migrants as a whole has also impacted international students on our campuses.
Furthermore, refugees and asylum seekers are facing impossible conditions to access higher education. Many are classified as international students, and have to pay extortionate overseas fees. Many are denied the right to work and are not eligible to apply for student loans in England or similar government support in Wales or Northern Ireland. This system is unfair. We call for young refugee and asylum seekers to be able to access student loans and to be classified as home students for the purpose of their fees.
The current language used around migration is a prime example of how the government is further marginalising and targeting some of the most vulnerable people in our society and our student communities.
We believe that migration is an important part of our social fabric, and must be protected at all costs.
What are we doing?
Our International Students Campaign looks to create strong, influential international student communities. There are many ways in which the government, universities and others can reduce barriers to higher education for migrants, and we can be part of that change.
We have been campaigning on issues impacting the welfare of international students, as well as proactively resisting discriminatory Home Office immigration policies. We are:
- Creating of a Student Protection Scheme
- Giving access to Higher Education for Asylum Seekers
- Demanding no more net-migration targets
- Creating a fair fee system #FixIntFees
- Supporting international students in crisis
- Calling for the internationalisation of campuses
What can you do to help?
You can find briefings and resources on how to support international students and migrants at your colleges and universities through the link below.
Information and resources on the NUS International Students Campaign can be found here.