Give them time to learn the language
8th July 2011: Foreign students make the UK a more diverse place. They bring in revenue, and repute. They go back home well read and better educated. And bring about changes in the existing system their native lands. The UK needs to adopt a more liberal approach towards them.
The Government has just reiterated tougher rules for the students, including: `Students coming to study degree-level courses must be able to prove they can speak English at an upper intermediate level, and others studying below degree-level will have to speak English at an intermediate level’.
The Immigration Minister, Damian Green, insists there is a logic and a reason behind the reforms the government is making to the student visa system. It is to stop abuse and bring net migration down to sustainable levels.
He believes it is the primary motivation of too many so-called students to come to the UK in order to work, rather than study, and that too many institutions are providing an immigration service rather than an educational one.
`We want legitimate students only, to study at legitimate colleges and universities,’ he has asserted.
While no one is against steps to prevent the abuse of students’ visa system, the UK needs to see whether the steps it is taking are in the right direction.
The measures, rather, leave one to wonder how can the knowledge of spoken English be a criteria to gauge the genuineness of intentions of a student.
He may be good at spoken English and still be here to work, rather than study. Or vice-versa. He may be bad at expressing himself in English, but still be here to study.
What the UK needs to remind itself is that a majority of the students coming to the country are from places where English is a second language. It is certainly not their mother tongue.
If they cannot speak English, you cannot say they will never learn to converse fluently in the language. It’s a matter of time, and inclination.
If you happen to go to New Delhi, India’s capital, and visit Janpath at Connaught Place, you will be surprised to hear the accent with which the illiterate roadside vendors speak English.
They have not studied it. Just picked it up from the shoppers from the foreign lands. Their example is a lesson for all. If there is will, there is a way.
Give the foreign students time to learn the language. It’s worth it.