- What's this got to do with Imperial College Union? Why campaign on this?
Imperial College Union exists to “enhance and defend the student experience at Imperial”. 29.9% of our members are from outside the EU, and we will work on their behalf just as we would for home students. We are also committed to defending the rights of minority groups, such as international students, even if the majority of the student body is unaffected. As the most democratically legitimate student representative body in England, it is our role to research and campaign on issues that affect our international members, and we are proud of the fact that we are in the top quartile of UK unions for how satisfied our international members are with our work on their behalf.
- International students don’t pay tax, so why should they get to use public services for free?
Wrong! international students pay the same tax as everyone else. If they work, they pay income tax and national insurance. They pay VAT and other purchase taxes. All of these taxes contribute to public services such as the NHS. Also, students should not be mistakenly included with those who come to the UK only for healthcare (although research indicates that the NHS makes an annual surplus from so-called ‘health tourism’). Students are here for at least one year, usually three or more. Their economic contribution to the UK is far greater than their cost to public services.
- International students are already paying several thousand pounds a year - what's another £200?
Wrong! There’s a common misconception that all international students are wealthy; this is false. For many international postgraduates, they are using personal savings and loans to finance their studies, and any extra costs will put increasing pressure on them – especially if they have families.
Additionally, the UK is one of many nations with a globally competitive Higher Education sector, and its position as one of the world’s most popular places for international students is under ever-increasing pressure. The US, Europe and emerging HE providers such as China, Australia and South Korea are making efforts to be attractive destinations for top-flight researchers, while the UK goes in the opposite direction, as the public mood is pushed to disapprove of immigrants of any kind. The £200 charge is just the latest of many reasons that international students considering the UK will use to choose somewhere else – depriving us of research talent and income that our economy desperately needs.
- International students are taking up spots that could go to students from the UK
Wrong! The only restriction on student numbers is on those from the EU, including the UK; the College cannot go above or below this quota, even if they wanted to swap EU students for international ones. Any limit on UK student numbers originates from the UK Government and is not connected to international student numbers.
- Landlords shouldn't be letting to illegal immigrants anyway, so there's nothing wrong with them checking immigration status.
Universities have to send members of staff on lengthy and expensive training courses every year simply so they can understand the complexities of one part of the UK’s immigration legislation. Landlords – many of whom are individuals letting out one or two properties – will not have the time, money or expertise to do this properly. It is unrealistic to expect them to be able to properly check visas, or even to recognise them; they are not qualified or able to act essentially as agents of the Home Office and border police.
Instead, we predict that landlords will simply exclude or ignore any applications from students they believe to be international. This will unfairly penalise both international students and home/EU students from ethnic minorities. It increases the risk that some students will have no choice but to accept accommodation with unscrupulous landlords – accommodation that may be unsafe, unregulated and unhealthy.