Monday, October 15The Voice of London

Fight or flight: UK’s (future) cold welcome on international students

Theresa May has been a strong advocate for a stricter visa regulation regarding international students and the possibilities of it being abused since her Home Secretary days. Her concern is not without logical reasoning; there has been one too many issues regarding foreigners in the UK. There are issues whether to put international students under the same umbrella as those of other immigrants, and what the government is going to do about it and whether their presence are more beneficial than not.

Reporter: Abigail Megan Widya | Sub-editor: Alex Zendra

Backed by her successor Amber Rudd, PM Theresa May plan to curb immigration by reducing the number of international students is now getting closer to realisation. Ms. Rudd plans on doing so by toughening the rules for students who come to study “low quality” courses and prioritising those going to “top tier universities”. This was what she said during the Conservative Party Conference at The ICC, Birmingham:

“So our consultation will ask what more can we do to support our best universities – and those that stick to the rules – to attract the best talent … while looking at tougher rules for students on lower quality courses. This isn’t about pulling up the drawbridge.  It’s about making sure students that come here, come to study”

Lady Amos on SOAS – ‘Soas is a specialist, niche university. We don’t teach science and engineering. We don’t feature in certain rankings because of our size.’ (the Guardian, 25/10/2016)

Whilst she did not specify on what classified as “best talent” and “lower quality” courses, it puts a stop to those going to universities that are not in the top five universities according to the ranks. It risks students with insecurities, continuing a course where it might seem not as prestigious as the others. It puts even Russel Group universities at stake.

On October 25th, president and principal of King’s College London told the Guardian that although he supports the use of Teaching Excellence Framework, “There’s no rationale for linking it to the regulation of international student recruitment as it was not designed for this purpose. It would damage the UK’s attractiveness as a study destination in what is a very competitive global market place.”


UCL, one of the Russell Group universities – are currently widening their participation strategy to encourage successful applications from BME candidates and those from poorer backgrounds.

Education put aside, there is also the economy situation which needs to be taken into consideration.

Where Chancellor Philip Hammond, had suggested that foreign students be separated from those counted as immigrants although this was later dismissed by the Prime Minister. His advice makes sense as international students contribute more to the British. Both in terms of investment for the nation’s future and in the case of subsidising the universities’ fees, international students should not be put in the same group with immigrants who came to work and build their life here.

According to the Guardian, Universities UK reports that international non-EU students boosts the UK economy by more than £10.7bn, whilst also making up for 13% of the universities’ revenues.  The UK Council for International Students Affair also reports that the non-EU/UK students also contribute to over 40% of UK postgraduate students, 50% of which doing full-time research degrees, sustaining the researches in areas like science and technology.

To be frank, international students in the UK are paying a lot more in terms of universities fees than those of UK/EU whilst still living on the more luxurious apartments and flats in comparison to the local students. It is arguable that the UK government should not treat the international students as “cash cow”, but the fact is, they are more than willing and able to spend. And when these students are helping the UK’s economy whilst also enhancing diversity, it is about right to treat them as respectable scholars and expatriates, not putting them as people who live off the government.