In Defence of International Students


As part of her goal to decrease the net migration figure, Theresa May has proposed to limit the number of students coming to study in the UK. May is making student visas more difficult to obtain, so that only the best international students can enter the top set of British universities (and therefore contribute to raising the rankings). Action has been taken to shut down “bogus” colleges, in order to prevent people from taking their so-called “Mickey Mouse” courses, which she claims attract international students. However, these colleges and courses provided also attract local students. Consequently, in her commitment to closing these colleges, she is limiting the freedom of choice in selecting the institution as well as the course that may be desirable or useful in terms of career prospects. Through this decision to reduce immigration, the local students will be affected just as much as the international students.

Action has been taken to stop universities marketing career opportunities available in Britain for their courses. This has been done with the intention to detract international students from remaining in the country after completing their studies. However, it should be noted that universities primarily wish to market themselves and their courses. Therefore, if universities must attract applicants, they must advertise why their degree would be worthwhile. Common sense would dictate that many applicants from home or abroad would study a course with the future intention of going into employment. Universities realise this and so, use it as a selling point not necessarily with the aim to encourage immigration.

The decision to cut down the number of international students (whether that be from the EU or elsewhere) coming to study in the UK bears detrimental results. These damaging effects would manifest themselves on a more obvious level economically, but also culturally and educationally. From a financial perspective, universities rely on various resources for their funding. Among these resources are international students, since they pay higher tuition fees than the locals and are therefore an asset to universities. The economic benefit of having international students (which is merely one of the many advantages they bring), should surely be a strong enough reason to encourage and welcome them to study in the UK.

Nevertheless international students are essential to the multi-cultural environment that universities boast of possessing. This multicultural environment created by students from all over the world coming together to learn is truly awe inspiring. These people hope to better themselves and by extension the world through their efforts in seeking an education. As a result, a global endeavour can be witnessed to further develop the world. International students are valuable subject-wise, this can be apparent in language departments. For instance, taking a course on Hispanic Studies with first language Spanish speakers will be beneficial for both, the local and international students, as they would learn from each other. Additionally, such learning does not necessarily have to be directly related to the course, since many attributes and skills appropriate for the course can be learned through interaction with one another. This exchange of information is again evident in other subject areas. For example, in Politics local and international students can compare and discuss the policies of their countries respectively.

Local students also benefit from a multicultural campus. Associating with international students can alter their former and possibly false impressions and make people more open minded. Racist attitudes can decrease as we meet people from various ethnicities around the world and forms friendships with many. Other differences such as religion and traditions, are reduced to minor divisions hardly recognisable among the multicultural learning environment. This is because, what matters at the end of the day is the individual’s character with its wit, humour and complex dimensions. Therefore, leaving the differences aside, we are all humans and inhabitants of one world. Again, association with international students from different backgrounds bearing varying values and concepts, allows one to develop this open mode of thinking, which eases integration.

Theresa May’s decision to restrict the access of international students to the country is dangerous. Education is a right to everyone— a right that should be defended for local students as well as international students, at least for all the benefits they contribute.

[Jeehan Ashercook]

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