“International students: Give me your money, take my degree and piss off my country”

Every now and then, Migreat blog opens up to people with a strong view on immigration or working at making immigration works.

Today, we turn to Sheffields Student Union’s, one of UK most active Student Unions on their fight for the return of a post study work visa for International Students, to write about the actual situation faced by International Students in the UK and tell us more about their campaign.


Today, if the Government spoke plainly about international students, I believe it would not be far from this statement.

How regularly do you hear a politician criticise immigrants for taking jobs from British people, putting pressure on public services, or that they come just to enjoy the UK’s benefits?

If I was to make a drinking game out of it, I would be pissed at work every single day.

No Borders Student Unions Fights International Student visa rules by Migreat Blog

Discovering the problems

Whether or not international students truly feel welcome in Sheffield is not just down to us. The truth is that international students have far too many problems to consider it a good decision to study in the UK. The following are just a few:

  • International students are included in the net migration figures of the Government. Despite being almost forced to leave the UK when they graduate, the Government insists that they are permanent migrants and subjects them to all the damaging, restrictive and abusive immigration policies.

  • The possibility for international students to find work after they graduate is very limited after the Post Study Work visa route closed in 2012. This caused the first drop in international students coming to study to the UK for more than 30 years; particularly with Indian students.

  • Many International students from war/conflict areas see their sponsorship lost or frozen. They are forced to leave the country to face life or death scenarios if they cannot find an alternative payment method.

  • After paying thousands of pounds, international students enrolled at an institution that loses its “Highly Trusted Sponsor” status face deportation from the UK without recovering any of their money, despite being the victims.

Finding solutions

In the same way there are problems, there have been solutions proposed to the Government over and over again by students, public institutions, employers and the public; basically almost everyone that is not Home Secretary Theresa May or a hardliner on immigration:

  • International students should be removed from the net migration figures: They should be considered temporary migrants just as our global competitors do (USA, Australia, Canada…) and with this, stop subjecting them to the current immigration policies. This position is now the official policy of Labour, the Liberal Democrats and even UKIP, as well as many Conservatives who are dismayed by ongoing messages which damage such a vital success story for the UK internationally.

  • The Post Study Work visa should be reintroduced: International students value a UK work experience (between 6 months and 3 years) as much as a UK Higher Education degree. The work experience is an integral part of international students’ education at the UK.

  • The Government should introduce a hardship scheme to protect international students from war/conflicts outbreaks. We should protect them from having to face a life/death scenario whilst they have reached a safe environment in the UK.

  • International students should have access to a fee protection scheme. International students should be entitled to recover their money if their institution fails relocate them when they lose their “Highly Trusted Sponsor” status.

International Student Parade by Sheffields SU. Credits to Mohamed Al Mannai
International Student Parade by Sheffields SU. Credits to Mohamed Al Mannai


What do you think?

Think about your international friends. Put yourself in their skin and picture yourself subjected to all these borders I have just been explaining:

  • Would you be happy paying for using the NHS despite paying already tens of thousands of pounds to be here?

  • Would you be happy if your landlord judges whether you are a eligible to rent a property?

  • Would you be happy if you only had four months to find a graduate level job after you graduate or face deportation?

  • Would you like to be forced to return to a war zone area?

Unfortunately, I could interrogate you with questions for hours but just remember: Do you really think the Government welcomes you?

We need to urge changes in the Government’s policies with respect to international students if we want to make the UK a welcoming place for them.

Jose International Student Officer Sheffield #NoBorder by Migreat Blog
Jose Diaz De Aguilar Puiggari, International Student Officer leading the #NoBorder Campaign

Action not complacency

The values at stake are too important for any complacency. When I leave my post as International Students’ Officer, I want to see international students in a far better position than the present one. As such, I would like to invite you to join us in this journey:

We launched an epetition to the Home Office, asking for the removal of international student numbers from net migration figures. We are hoping to make some real noise in Parliament over the treatment of international students in the UK by getting 100,000 signatures by the end of March 2015.

Please visit the Students’ Union campaign page or join our campaign group at facebook.

It is our hope that this campaign will inspire the government and campuses around the UK to embrace international students for their talent and diversity, and not just for their fee payments.


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