International students could face challenges with their visas under new immigration proposals by the Home Office. The proposals, which have been submitted for public consultation, are aimed at reducing the number of immigrants in the UK.
In response, the Students’ Union has launched the Protect International Students’ Rights campaign, whilst the Sabbatical Officers are lobbying local MPs on the matter.
International Officer Mina Kasherova said that she had sent letters and emails to Nick Clegg, Sheffield Hallam MP, but had not yet had a response. The issue was raised in the House of Lords after consultations with the Union.
The proposals mean that Post Study Work Scheme could be abolished, so international students will have to go back home when they graduate, without a chance to work in the UK.
There are also plans to remove students’ rights to bring dependents, such as their families, to the UK unless the student’s degree course is longer than 12 months.The dependent’s right to work would also be revoked and the students’ part time work could also be restricted to only during term time and only on campus.
The proposed end of visa extensions for new courses will force applicants to go back home and apply from there if they wish to get a postgraduate degree.
The Vice-Chancellors of the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University have stated that changes to immigration rules for students will seriously harm the economy.
A spokesperson said: “The University of Sheffield is seriously concerned about the proposals being made by the Home Office to change the student immigration system.
“We firmly believe that the proposals will have serious implications for our ability to recruit international students and will have a damaging economic impact on the Sheffield City region.”
Kasherova said: “We have had about 250 online signatures and over 500 offline. It’s been a popular campaign: 4,000 people have visited our website and Paul Blomfield (MP Sheffield Central)has said that he is supporting our campaign.
“These changes will dramatically reduce the quality of life of both international and British students at our University.
“International students contribute a lot to our campus, bringing income, cultural and social diversity and knowledge.”
She also suggested the changes will affect future students’ decision on whether to study in the UK: “The proposed measures will put many potential students off from coming to Britain.
“Some of the proposals, such as removing Post Study Work, are a major attraction for students as work experience can add a lot to their degree before they go back home.
“Others, like making it harder for a student to bring their family, to take another course of the same level, or to work during their studies, would mean that the experiences and choices of international students will be damaged and limited.”
The International Students’ Committee (ISC) have deemed the proposed changes “inappropriate and inconsiderate”.
A committee statement said: “It will also have a discomforting impact on the ‘authentic student experience’ and may increase the differences between international students and EU and Home students in terms of equality and opportunities.
“Contrary to current belief, international students are not a drain on the economy. In fact, they contribute approximately £5 billion annually to the economy.
“In addition they provide a wealth of culture, information, values, diverse skills, knowledge and experiences which enable all students within a university to experience the whole world under one academic roof.
“Is it really fair to reduce the importance of these genuine students in the British education system to that of a systematic nuisance to the immigration problem?”