National Union of Students

HOME SECRETARY MUST STOP SENDING MESSAGE TO INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS THAT UK IS ‘CLOSED FOR BUSINESS’

Press release   •   Dec 12, 2012 13:51 GMT

The National Union of Students (NUS) today (Wednesday) responded to a comments by Theresa May by warning that that the Home Secretary had yet again failed to act to restore faith in UK immigration policy for international students.

Although Mrs May had been forced into a re-think in response to the shambolic situation created by UKBA’s withdrawal of London Metropolitan’ University’s highly trusted sponsor (HTS) status, including international reputational damage and plummeting application numbers*, the Home Secretary’s concessions were inadequate while the extension of vetting interviews would see applicants with further suspicion, NUS warned.

Daniel Stevens, NUS International Students Officer said:

“It is not universities, but rather the Home Secretary herself who been sending the message loud and clear that international students are not welcome in the UK. Mrs May has already done huge damage to the UK’s reputation and now seems determined to demonstrate that the UK is closed for business by treating those who want to study here with further suspicion and hostility.

“In the face of sustained criticism from the Mayor of London, business and university leaders, MPs of all parties, lecturers and students, the Home Secretary has today offered a few fig leaf concessions which will have an impact on only a tiny proportion of international students, whilst refusing to acknowledge the huge and widespread damage her policies are already doing.

“The Home Office and UKBA must stop using international students as cannon fodder in their quest to get immigration numbers down to meet their arbitrary targets. International students come to the UK for the temporary purpose of study and collectively make a huge economic and social contribution to national life when they study here, but they are being made to feel increasingly unwelcome.

“The Home Secretary would do well to listen to the Business Secretary and Universities Minister, who are determined to rebuild the UK’s reputation for international higher education but are being currently hamstrung by the Home Office.”

*Migration Statistics Quarterly Report. November 2012 - In the year to September 2012, there were 210,921 visas issued for the purpose of study (excluding student visitors), a fall of 26 per cent compared with the previous 12 months. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/migration1/migration-statistics-quarterly-report/november-2012/msqr.html

NUS (National Union of Students) is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students' unions.

We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education unions in the UK. Through our member students' unions, we represent the interests of more than seven million students.