International students tell us why they’re terrified of Theresa May

‘The gender of a politician alone is not enough to justify their policies’


Theresa May is well known for her somewhat harsh immigration policies, and now she is in charge of the country, many believe it is only going to go downhill.

Since Brexit there has been talk of European students not being able to stay after completing their degrees, and now other international students are starting to worry as well. We spoke to some international students who are studying in the UK, or have studied and would like to move back here in the future, to see how they feel about May, and their futures in Britain.

Léonie – Germany, studying French and Music

Having lived most of my life in a country that’s ruled by a woman I think it’s a good thing that England has got a female Prime Minister, but beside that feminist view I am actually a bit worried about my future in the UK.

May and Merkel have completely different views concerning the EU Referendum and Germany won’t make any commitments that Britain should be an active member of the EU again. It’s worrying me that May won’t take that step back on the Brexit decision – she made that clear from the beginning.

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Having heard about her position towards immigrants I have to say that I feel slightly uncomfortable and unwelcome coming back to the UK in September.

I hope that this quite negative impression I have at the moment is due to my stay in Germany over summer, maybe things are being presented worse than they are abroad and hopefully everything will turn out well for all international residents in the UK.

Courtney – Australia

I for sure want to move to England in the future and the way the immigration laws and political discussion are going at the moment it makes me feel like that won’t be an opportunity.

I don’t know much about Theresa May, just what I’ve read on the news, but the way she wants to stop universities advertising to international students is definitely not beneficial for the country. England is such an ideal destination at the moment but it won’t be for long.

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Tereza – Czech Republic, studying Management with Marketing

As an international student I’m not incredibly familiar with her. It’s not the politics of my homeland and I see her on TV but obviously a lot of those reports are skewed or lacking information.

She seems like a hard-working person who is following the vision of helping Britain with the current situation which sometimes looks like a rollercoaster. I guess it’s good to see woman in politics as well because it brings different opinions and maybe different handling of important situations.

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I was surprised when I heard what she felt about human rights and immigration and how she wants to decrease migration to the UK. I hope to get a better picture when I am back, as there is a lot to find out about her. But for now, I am not worried about her being a PM and I hope she won’t let Britain down. Athat after all the drama following Brexit, it seems like she got her position rightfully.

Hannah – USA, studying History

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Female representation in the political sphere is incredibly important but the gender of a politician alone is not sufficient to justify their policies.

May’s gender does not make her inherently more empathetic to minority issues – this is a common assumption of many voters that women are more likely to support underrepresented groups and promote peacekeeping

It looks like her immigration policies are aimed directly at cutting out the influx of international students to the UK, which is a huge disappointment. While it’s understandable that the huge numbers of international students may intimidate British students complaining about lack of space at universities, international students bring not only economic benefits but also cultural ones. Less international students mean a more isolated UK.

I do think that it is generally too soon to tell what kind of PM May will be. She is only just beginning to implement policies, and the British media is notorious for whipping up a frenzy.

Emilie – France, studying Law

I definitely think it’s a wonderful idea for UK to have Theresa May as a PM. She is a woman and embodies the strong and deciding woman, she shows to the entire world that a woman can decide and run a powerful country like the UK.

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I don’t really think that her immigration records will be a problem. On the contrary, I really think it’s better for a multicultural country like UK to have a PM who is able to understand immigration issues and who embodies that diversity. It makes more sense for her to deal with immigrations problems.  She epitomizes the success and the diversity and she is in the same political line as the Mayor of London. A unique and clear politician.

Alexander – USA, studying Public History

Personally, I am relieved that Mr. Cameron has stepped down.  As an American ex-pat, I was never particularly keen on his immigration policies.

I’ve read up a bit on Theresa May, and although I don’t agree with all of her policies, I am interested to see what she will contribute to this country.  My hope is that she’ll be a stronger leader for Britain, and for the international arena.

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Udesh – Colombia, studying Politics and International Relations

As a student of Politics and IR I think that the image an international student has about Mrs May is a negative one.

I don’t know how an EU student feels about it, but most other non EU international students carry a very bad image and perception of her. If you have a look in international student Facebook pages there are so many bad references attributed to her, so I think it is a general perception that international students have a very bad feeling about Mrs May.

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I am doing my MSc here and I was looking forward to continue it to a PhD. However I don’t think I would want to do it in the UK, because the government sends out too many bad signals bashing international students.

Ash – New Zealand

Before you asked me the only thing I knew was that it’s cool to have a woman PM. But also she’s really not great and that it’s not good she appointed Boris Johnson as foreign secretary.
I’ve done some quick reading online and wow her record around immigration is really not good. It makes me feel very concerned and wary for the future, and the possibility that I want to move back to the UK, as well as for everyone else that might want to.

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