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Closing door on international students can affect educational sector, UK’s image

`Let’s make our voices heard by using consultation’: Valerie Hartwich 7th January 2011: With just about three week to go before the Government’s consultation on Student Immigration comes to an end, people have been urged to make their voices heard, as the “discriminatory and damageable measures” would have devastating effect for the “educational sector, the UK’s image and the moral compass”.
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The deadline for responses to the consultation expires on 31st January 2011.

Valerie Hartwich, convenor of the ‘Visiting artists and academics’ campaign of the Manifesto Club has asserted that the government is seeking to impose discriminatory and damageable measures because of a supposed mandate by its electorate.

The effects could be devastating both for the educational sector, for the UK’s image and for our moral compass. Let’s make our voices heard by using the consultation and campaigning fiercely on this new front.

The `Guest Post’ on the issue of `closing the door on international students in the UK’ has been published by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. Hartwich also writes the Free Movement blog at their website.

The post says the government only recently came out with the announcement that to achieve the target of reducing the number of migrants per year it needed to reduce the number of international students.
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Hartwich asserted the prime `victims’ would be under degree levels individuals, already associated in the public mind with bogus students all because of the sensational stories carried by a section of the media.

Hartwich goes on to say the other justification for doing so are the numbers of migrants staying on for up to five years after their original visa  — the ones called overstayers by Immigration Minister Damian Green.

Hartwich says, on the other hand, the educational-providers claim a substantial number of those initially taking up English courses go on for further or higher education.

Asserting a `polite, but fierce war on words and figures’ was on, Hartwich says the government, if it succeeds, will further stretch the feeling that the UK is turning into a `protectionist country, whose sole interest in things foreign rests with money’.

Hartwich says a few thousand UK residents’ jobs will simply disappear as schools witness a drop in student numbers.

Describing the government’s plan to cap foreign students as by and large an indication of ideological zeal, Hartwich says a majority of these students are genuine. If they do work during their stay in the country, it is under `already strict conditions to bear the high cost of living in this country’.

Hartwich says UKCISA and Nicola Dandridge of Universities UK have already made it public that they are not economical migrants, and should not fall victim to a populist campaign to ‘save British jobs for British workers’.

Referring to an earlier piece by JCWI, Hartwich says it has already made it clear that the proposed cap also contains restrictions to be applied to all applicants, many showing a concerning degree of both total incomprehension for the reality of education, and disregard for basic human rights.

Pointing at the Home office move to restrict international students from working on campus during term weekdays, where jobs are limited and often unrelated to their studies, Hartwich says the disadvantage compared to Home/EU students in terms of study related experience comes on top of a proposal to reduce the ratio between study and work placement.

Hartwich questions: Will this apply to foreign nationals only or to all students in order to be workable? In any instance this is a clear state infringement on academic autonomy, and a damageable idea for students who need to gather as much experience as possible in this highly competitive job market.

Hartwich also refers to the proposal suggesting international students could be subjected to an academic progress tracking system, handled by their university, to ensure their continued studies in the UK is not an excuse to remain in the country.

Hartwich says it actually follows a progression in degrees. `Academic progression is not a mere factor of evolution from undergraduate to masters onto PhD levels. A well-rounded education and expertise in a field might require studying two separate masters. Will this still be possible if this proposal is adopted?’

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