This is a guest post from Aurora Adams, a student at the University of Edinburgh and NUS Scotland’s International Student Officer.
NB: NUS are looking for testimonies from international students who feel that the UKBA’s decision to revoke London Met’s Highly Trusted Sponsorship Status – throwing thousands of international students into a horrendous position of either finding a new university within 60 days or facing deportation, or even simply not being let into the country despite recieving their visa – has made them feel about being an international student in the UK. The government needs to understand that they are driving away international students. Write your own testimony and send it to Johanna.Holtan@eusa.ed.ac.uk to help.
I came to this country thinking that, in a lot of ways, it was more multicultural and progressive than my own (Australia). I wanted to be part of a global education system, mixing with people from all over the world, and I looked forward to being part of a university that welcomed all its students from anywhere and everywhere with open arms, understanding that sharing culture and experience is crucial in a world that becomes more interconnected every day.
The removal of London Metropolitan University’s HTS has made the government’s real position on international students abundantly clear, and brought home to me how far away from the UK I wanted to come to today’s reality is.
It is a tragedy that in my two years here, so much has changed. The government encourages xenophobia on the streets with its anti-immigrant rhetoric, laying the blame for their own policy’s failings on students, refugees, and workers who come to Britain and bring so much, whether financial, cultural or skills-based. But it goes beyond rhetoric – the government has institutionalised xenophobia, closing its borders. When a society chooses to shut itself off from the world, it looks reactionary and racist – in the UK’s case, an appropriate view.
If I had known before I came here that my university would be forced by the government to introduce monitoring systems that treat me like a criminal, that the Post-Study Work Visa would be revoked, that I would have to listen to government announcements telling me I am unwelcome, have my rights to work and have a family here practically destroyed, and that universities like London Met would be attacked by the reactionary, anti-immigrant policies of the UKBA, I don’t think I would have come. Now, for international students, the government is creating a culture of fear, one that I do not enjoy living under.
No, I won’t recommend studying here to any student abroad; not until the UK government learns to change its attitudes to international students – and all immigrants – and realises that we are positive additions to society here.
The UKBA’s policies are liked only by xenophobes – home students, lecturers, businesspeople and international students are united against them. Appealing to racism and perpetuating myths about immigration, the labour market and students, is a pathetic way to do politics. It makes the UK look at best like a fool and at worst like what it is becoming more and more apparent it is: a country with a bigoted government that hasn’t yet grasped how out-of-date and politically, economically, culturally and morally stupid its positions really are.