The University of Sheffield has launched a campaign aimed at recognising and lessening the barriers that international students face in the UK.
The Students Union website reads that “Current immigration policies in the UK have left international students facing more barriers than ever when it comes to studying and working in the UK. Aside from significant economic benefits, international students bring diversity to our learning communities, making UK universities some of the most vibrant and innovative in the world.
“The University of Sheffield Students' Union is committed to defending the rights of international students by breaking down the borders that prevent international students from accessing education and work and by celebrating the truly global community we have at the University of Sheffield.”
In order to achieve its aims, the union is petitioning the Home Office to remove international students from its net migration figures, with the #EducationNotMigration online campaign.
The recently launched petition has over 700 signatures, and is asking the government to “remove international students from net migration statistics to stop damaging international student recruitment and bring the UK in-line with global competitors.”
It was launched by International Officer Jose Diaz de Aguilar, who told The Star that “International students face a physical border in coming to the UK, that the government wants to try to restrict their entry.”
He adds: “They also face a mental border through adapting to the country and facing a culture shock.
“We want to try to remove all these borders.”
The union also plans to lobby political parties to see international students as a priority in the run up to May’s General Election, through the creation of a Sheffield Student Manifesto.
The Manifesto will, amongst other things, ask the government to introduce fee protection schemes, as well as hardship schemes for students who are at risk of conflict or political unrest in their own countries.
The activities come underneath the #NoBorders banner.
The current campaign leads on from last year’s Say No campaign, which successfully fought against the introduction of landlord visa checks for international students.
In the past the union has also used its #weareinternational campaign to assist internal students in the process of application to the university. The campaign also sought to celebrate internationalism across the University of Sheffield campus.
Jose adds that the UK doesn’t give the right impression to international students who want to take advantage of the great educational opportunities that it has to offer: “The immigration rhetoric is giving the wrong answers for the most problematic issues in the UK. Just because student immigration is an easy target to blame for the problems in the UK it doesn’t mean we should. It’s just wrong.
“The UK is such a multi-cultural country and we should be doing more to contribute to this diverse community.”
The University of Sheffield has a thriving international student community, with students from over 120 countries amongst its 26,000-strong university population.