No último dia 9 de agosto, Daniel Stevens, International Officer da NUS(National Union of Students), analisou em seu blog a atual situação dos estudantes internationais frente às politicas do atual governo de coalizão comandado pelo Primeiro Ministro David Cameron:
Following lobbying from both the university and business sector, the Sunday Times reported that the Government is currently considering whether to remove international students from net migration statistics. I believe that it is absolutely crucial that we are. Even if Damian Green insists that “the doors are not closed to EU-students”, we know that the message amongst international students has already been established as “don’t come to the UK”. The UK needs to shift course and regain its international reputation before its doors are closed for good.
The inclusion of international students in migration statistics has led to a perverse incentive for the Government to drastically cut down on international student numbers, when actually one of the government’s own committees found that international students contribute around £8 billion to the economy each year. Ironically, international education is also one of the only areas of the British economy currently experiencing growth. Over the past two years, the Government has implemented a series of controversial policies in order to deter students from choosing to study in the UK. Used as a political football, legitimate international students have faced the brunt of the Government’s attempts to look tough on immigration.
Concurrently, there has been a consistent smear campaign against international students in the media to justify these actions. Sensationalist media has irresponsibly jumped on the immigration bandwagon with headlines such as “1/3 of foreign students visas lack credibility” or saying that universities rejected “tens of thousands of British teenagers, currently sitting A-levels, so they can fill places with more profitable foreign students.” Neither of these statements are true. The first statistic was a misrepresentation of a pilot study of interviews conducted by the UKBA. The second statement was nothing more than an absolute lie. The money international students bring into UK higher education actually allows British places to be subsidised.
Nevertheless, the damage has been done and many members of the public stereotype international students as benefit-claiming illegal immigrants. One Telegraph reader remarked that removing students from net migration figures be the equivalent of “open[ing] the door to the Taliban.” Ministers sabre-rattling on international students has festered a hostile environment which has opened up the doors to many forms of cloaked racism. Are there bogus students? Yes. But the numbers are miniscule compared to the hundreds of thousands of legitimate students.
The Immigration Minister, Damian Green has recently stated that it was “essential to shift the perception after the recent rule changes that the doors were closed to non-EU students.” However, it’s not perception. Whilst the doors might not be closed completely- the “Do Not Enter” signs are clearly on show. Damian Green and Theresa May are responsible for producing an increasingly hostile and unwelcome environment for international students. Moreover, the insistence that these policies won’t deter the “brightest and best” is nonsense. Those actively campaigning against these changes include officers from the Edinburgh, LSE, Warwick, Oxford and Cambridge.
However, we, the international students of the UK are not defenceless. There are many weapons in our arsenal, but the most powerful is word of mouth. Word of mouth recommendations are one of the key reasons international students come to study in the UK and currently international students are advising their friends and family not to follow them to the UK. Research recently conducted by NUS found that a resounding 40% of international students would not recommend the UK as a place to study.
That’s why I’m proud to say that fighting the Government’s immigration policies for international students will be the priority of the International Students’ Campaign. This autumn will see the launch of a major campaign to ensure that our voices are heard loud and clear. Much of this is still at the planning stage- but it’s safe to say that one way or another- international students will be finally taking to the streets