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Fringe Event: Students without Borders? Changes to the student immigration rules

Fringe Event Report: Students without Borders? What changes to the student immigration rules mean for your institution.



With barely enough seats for all, attendees squeezed in for a debate on what has been one of the most hotly discussed issues for both international and domestic students this year.

The event focused on the recently announced changes to the student immigration rules and the discussion explored:
  • The new restrictions on student immigration
  • What these are likely to mean for universities and colleges
  • What students’ unions and institutions can do to limit negative impacts on students and the education sector

Largely the feeling was one of relief among the panel that the UKBA changes were significantly less harsh that the original proposals had suggested, however, it was noted that there were challenges ahead. The whole UKBA consultation process and debate on reducing international student numbers has left a negative impressions with not only potential international students but also on those students currently studying here who feel betrayed and insulted by the negative attitude of government. 

International students are already paying extremely high tuition fees which many feel are combined with an insufficient level of support for their studies and recent changes are unlikely to make this situation any more acceptable.
Concerns were raised over how to resource some of the monitoring procedures required by UKBA. While most colleges already have robust attendance monitoring procedures in place there is an increased necessity for Universities to mirror this and monitor attendance of International Students – this process will require investment for many at a time of cuts and has also met resistance from academic staff who do not see this as a necessary part of their remit.
Questions were raised around a lack of cultural awareness amongst staff and institutions. The panel noted that although things have changed and that more staff are being trained that the University sector particularly can be very slow moving and it can take a long time to change ingrained attitudes and adapt procedures.
Christina Yan Zhang of NUS highlighted that the battle for international students or was better viewed in the context of all citizens becoming Global. She noted that there were there huge employability benefits of experience studying and working aboard. She stated were we to increase placements that lasted just over one year sufficiently the impact on net migration would bring it well within government targets. If you want to support increased mobility with Christina’s Global Futures project there is further information here.
The event was jointly organised by the NUS UK International Students Campaign, Students Without Borders and Internationalising Your Students Union projects who would like to extend a huge thanks to both speakers and event attendees.
The panel of experts, senior figures from colleges and universities and representatives of national sector bodies featured Christina Yan Zhang, (International Officer NUS), Trevor Ashton (Assistant Principal International Business Development, City of Sunderland College) Ella Ritchie (Deputy Vice Chancellor, Newcastle University) Tim Johnson (Chair of the Executive Committee of British Universities’ International Liaison Association), Daniel Stevens (President, Warwick Students' Union). The debate was chaired by Joseph Akinnagbe of the NUS International Students’ Committee.



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