International students aren’t causing immigration problems – they’re solving them
‘We make a lot of money for universities, so to now say we don’t have the right to enter is a bit absurd’
International students are worth £28.8billion to the UK economy. Yet, Rishi Sunak is still considering barring foreign students from certain “low quality” uni courses to decrease immigration numbers in Britain and neither professors nor students can understand why.
This week, Priti Patel additionally outlined plans to ban any student below PhD level from bringing their family with them while they study, risking deterring some of the best international talent from studying in the UK, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, Nick Hillman, has said.
“We’re here to explore an opportunity for our life, not take away someone else’s,” Vedika Mandapati who came to the UK from India to study International relations at Cambridge told The Tab. “Honestly I think the general obsession with the idea that immigrants can be blamed for everything that’s going wrong is one that just upsets me.”
UK students are actually likely to suffer too if there’s a limit on the number of foreign students who are allowed to study here, because international students make up the majority of many universities’ income, staff have said.
“Most universities for most courses lose money on teaching British students and offset that loss by charging more for international students” Professor Brian Bell told Radio 4’s Today programme. “If you close down the international route I’m not sure how the university continues to survive.”
And Vedika thinks courses will cost more for home students if international students aren’t allowed a place at uni. “We pay almost three times the cost if not more just to study at university in the UK,” she says. “We make a lot of money for universities, so to now say we don’t have the right to enter is a bit absurd.”
Only two years ago, the UK re-introduced a post-study work visa, or Graduate Route, which allows students to work in the UK for two years after finishing their studies. When it was removed in an attempt to curb immigration in 2012, the number of Indian students who chose to study in the UK fell massively and quadrupled after it was reinstated.
“I’m from a very privileged situation where if I hadn’t gone here then I would have still gone to university internationally,” Vedika says of what she’d have missed if she hadn’t been able to travel from India to the UK to study. “But I would have lost out on experience to broaden my own cultural horizons and learn more about the world.”
Thankfully for UK and international students, even members of Rishi’s own party are against banning foreign students from university courses. “Other countries look with envy at the UK’s appeal to global talent,” former universities minister Jo Johnson told the Observer. “Higher education is one of our few globally competitive sectors and strong demand reflects its high standing in countries that are central to our post-Brexit positioning, including India.
“It’s hard to imagine a policy more likely to harm UK ambitions to become a science superpower and to level up across the country than a mindless crackdown on international students.”