Staff and students at UEA react to home secretary’s crackdown on international students
- Credit: Archant
Students and staff at the UEA have spoken out in support of international students, after the home secretary announced a crackdown on those studying here from abroad.
Amber Rudd announced the major new restrictions on overseas students in a speech at the Conservative party conference on Tuesday, which included two-tier visa rules affecting poorer quality universities and courses, a crackdown on work visas and the introduction of a £140m 'controlling migration fund'.
Nick Timothy, Theresa May's chief of staff, had previously floated the idea of restricting the right to work in Britain after graduation to those who attend Oxbridge and the Russell Group of universities.
Jean Roeling is president of the International Students' Society (ISS) at UEA. He said: 'Lots of students are just sad [about the restrictions]. It makes them feel unwelcome when you just want to live.
'I have a lot of people telling me they were scared of Brexit, but the university has been really good and said things won't change yet, but when we have the new restrictions it's just another thing.'
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If the proposals go ahead, it's the first time student immigration rules will be linked to the quality of colleges and courses, and it looks to affect overseas students from outside Europe who account for 167,000 of the 600,000 new migrants each year.
UEA students' union welfare and diversity officer, Jo Swo, highlighted the benefits international students bring. She said: 'We believe that our international students make an enormous contribution to higher education, both educationally and economically.
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'As highly skilled people, they make an invaluable contribution to our economy and to our local communities. We'd like to see international students treated as part of our communities rather than a commodity by the government.
'This proposal to limit overseas students only signals that UK is closed for business. We believe that ministers need to take a very different approach and support universities, like UEA, and remove international students from the net migration target altogether.'
UEA vice-chancellor Professor David Richardson added: 'The UEA has a long and proud history of students and researchers from across the globe coming to study, undertake research and work in Norwich. Our international students and staff brings significant economic and cultural benefits to the city, county and region and they become real ambassadors for Norwich and Norfolk when they return home.'