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International Education UK Xenophobic Politics

University World News UK article from Simon Marginson whom is professor of international higher education in the Institute of Education at the University of London in the UK.


Internationalisation under threat from anti-immigration populism….Moreover, unlike the United States – which generates revenues for international education as the byproduct of policies designed to enhance American influence and recruit global talent for domestic purposes – the UK has systematically turned the drawing power of its education sector into a commercial business that generates nearly GBP20 billion (US$33.8 billion) a year in fees and other spending by students and families.

It is almost unthinkable that the British government would take a series of decisions that would undermine the inward flow of students. But amid an immigration debate spinning out of control, that is exactly what it has done…. ….. In the UK this chronic policy failure has cranked up the risk factors in higher education finance. International student numbers are falling for the first time in many years. And higher education institutions are highly dependent on this source.

High dependency

The downside of the export industry is the high dependence of many British institutions on the money it provides…..….EU student numbers were down because of the GBP9,000 fee regime for local and EU students that was introduced in 2012. This trend was expected. It is the smaller decline in high fee non-EU students that is generating most of the ripples.

The number of students from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh plummeted. This was partly balanced by increases in students from China and Hong Kong. Chinese students are mainstays of taught masters courses. In 2012-13 they were 23% of such students, almost as many as the 26% from the UK.


Government action

The UK authorities have cracked down on rogue colleges and immigration scams in the sub-continent, but that is not the only cause of the downturn in numbers.

The cost of UK visas (US$520) is high, compared to US$360 in the US and only US$124 in Canada. Non-EU students (and only non-EU students) are subject to individual interviews designed to establish ‘student integrity’. Lecturers must report on non-EU students (and only non-EU students) on a monthly basis.

In universities many describe the present visa regime as unwelcoming, discriminatory, burdensome and intrusive. Universities UK estimates the total cost of institutional compliance at GBP70 million per annum.

In 2012, post-study work visas, which allowed graduates two years of looking for work to defray the cost of their education, were scrapped.

Graduates must now find jobs worth GBP20,600 a year within four months if they want to stay and work in the UK. This compares to two- to four-year post-study work visas in Australia and three years in Canada, which is emerging as a serious competitor for the UK….

….International education in the UK is being undermined by a consistent set ofmoves in policy and regulation that are designed to slow inward student mobility and retard the progression from student to migrant.

Why? The sole goal is to reduce immigration. The present Coalition – Conservative-Liberal Democrat – government is under strong pressure to do this.

Anti-migration politics

The international education sector has been caught by a negative wave of migration politics, like an insect in a spider web.

Politically the main responsibility lies with Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party, which is riding very high. UKIP is expected to gain 30% of the vote in the elections for the European Parliament and out-poll each of the established major parties…. …International students are almost 40% of the migration count. Bearing down on non-EU students is the quickest way to reduce migration. Hence the moves designed to slow the inward movement of students, and to weaken the capacity of graduates to generate enough points to apply for ongoing residency.

Seven select committees of the Houses of Commons and Lords have now called on the government to remove international students from the net migration target.

But it is much more difficult to cut employer-sponsored migrants and to stop applications from the highly skilled, than to cold-shoulder students. So far the government seems determined to hang onto the power to reduce migration by reducing students, regardless of the cost to the GBP20 billion export industry.

The UK might be a nation of shopkeepers, as Adam Smith and Napoleon said, but it seems race-based identity (and political survival) are more important than money.’



Sound familiar, like Population Matters and Migration Watch in the UK, Australia has Sustainable Population Australia and CPUR Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University, all directly influenced by John Tanton’s ‘white nativist’ Network in the USA including The Social Contract Press.


If governments and industry bodies were able to communicate how population data is compiled and what international education has to offer via mainstream media, there would be more sympathy for the industry.


More news and information about international education, population growth, immigration and development click through.

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