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International Student Myths and Stereotypes

Following is an article about international students in the UK and their experience, immigration and human development.


From The Guardian Education Meet the global students ‘International students in the UK: who are they really?

Myths and stereotypes abound, but we seldom hear the voices of students who’ve come to the UK from around the world.  Around 18% of all students in UK higher education came from other countries in 2012-13, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa), and OECD statistics show that the UK attracts a large proportion of international students globally, with a market share of around 13% in 2011 second only to the US on 16.5%.

Nevertheless, international students themselves remain an enigma: while they are presented as a range of stereotypes by the media, it’s rare that we hear about their experiences first hand.

We hear stories about vast wealth – that they are coming from the Middle East, Asia, the US, Russia and India to rent luxury London apartments for £1,000 per week, and are spending tens of thousands on private tuition for exam resits.

At the other end of the spectrum, we hear about poor students being “ripped off by bogus colleges” and the Daily Mail carries reports about those feigning student status to“illegally work for five-figure salaries and claim benefits”.

As the largest group of migrants from outside the EU, international students are also dragged into the immigration debate, with politicians arguing about whether they should be included in statistics on migrant numbers.

The hurdles they have to overcome to gain student status are rarely touched on in the media.

Despite this, a report by Mark Field MP for British Future finds that students are among the most popular migrants in the UK, with 59% of the public agreeing that the government shouldn’t cut international student numbers.

This may be partly because they contribute a huge amount to our universities and economy – the government estimated that in 2011-12, international students contributed £3.9bn in tuition fees after scholarships and £6.3bn in living expenses…



….. Chinese students were the largest group of international students studying in the UK from 2012-2013, making up almost a fifth of the total, according to data released by HESA this year.

Indian students were the second largest group, comprising 5.3% of international students, despite their number declining by around 25% since 2011-2012, according to Hefce, coinciding with visa changes.

Around 3.4% came from Germany – the largest number of students from another EU country, despite both France and Ireland being geographically closer. France and Ireland still make the top ten though, with close to 3% of our international students coming from each country.

We’ve interviewed a student from each of these countries to find out what life’s really like as an international student at a UK university.

Expect confessions about craving native cuisines, criticisms of British attitudes towards alcohol and “lad culture”, and find out which country’s teenage girls bring suitcases of their own sanitary towels to the UK.



Good article, and unlike Australia where neither the mainstream media nor the international education sector have anything good to say (publicly) about international students, who have become a ‘political football’.

Every perceived negative issue is blamed on international students and/or other ‘immigrants’ whether population growth, ‘runaway’ immigration (by deeming temps in the NOM as ‘immigrants’, i.e. negative connotation), visa fraud, unemployment, rising property prices, education quality, taking local student places etc. etc..

Not only does this display xenophobic tendencies, but also a distinct lack of clear thinking and critical analysis in media and society.

An opinion without evidence or distorted data is not a correlation, let alone direct causal link, leading to what Vince Cable describes as a ‘torrid and emotional’ debate.

If one looks at where the sources of information and memes come from they are the same, the John Tanton nativist network emanating from the USA and its journal the intellectual fulcrum ‘The Social Contract Press’.

It’s work (and perceived credibility) is carried out by supporters who are demographers and related academics in universities and think tanks, and right wing ‘environmentalists’ (pretending to be of the left). In the UK this is Population Matters and in Australia it is Sustainable Population Australia and Monash University’s CPUR.  They produce regular media releases citing ‘research’ concluding that ‘immigrants’ including international students are bad for the nation, which is then transmitted as fact by mainstream media, i.e. ‘dog whistling’.

Worst in Australia is that these ‘memes’ are never challenged and are taken at face value by both left and right, while demonising international students and other immigrants.  However, the techniques should be familiar as they have been used by neo cons, and the Kremlin…… a meeting of minds that crosses political divides.

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