The UK government revealed the post-study work policy change back in September, with students graduating in the 2020/21 academic year set to benefit from the new rule.
“It is unfair for the current international students in the UK to miss out on this opportunity purely on the basis of implementation timings,” the letter addressed to all of the UK’s political parties states.
“Among the priorities that most students wanted to implement was the post-study work extension”
Ahead of the general election on December 12, the representatives from universities including London’s Goldsmiths, the University of Manchester, and the University of Bristol, have demanded an immigration system that “fights xenophobia and unfair deportations, doesn’t falsely accuse international students of malpractices and scandals and is accessible, friendly and welcoming”.
Along with extending PSW rights, the letter outlines four other challenges that make international students feel unwelcome in the UK.
NHS surcharges of £400 should be abolished, while international graduates should be exempt from minimum salary thresholds if they choose to stay in the UK to work following graduation, the group added.
UK political parties should also commit to student exchange programs, including “the Erasmus schemes, cross-border study in Ireland, supporting inward and outward student mobility and ensuring that the UK higher and further education institutions have access to research funding equivalent to the EU funding”.
Additionally, the group requests that the privatisation of visa services be abolished.
“Following the recent privatisation of the visa services following the partnership with Sopra Steria, a number of our international students have not only experienced poor services, time delays in obtaining visas but also excessive rise in visa charges,” the letter reads.
Parties must ensure students “do not pay excessively for their visas and are provided timely and quality service”.
“Among the priorities that most students wanted to implement was the post-study work extension,” former international students’ officer at Manchester Students’ Union, Riddi Viswanathan, told The PIE News.
“When [current students] applied, they didn’t have to pay NHS surcharges and were told [they] were included in our fees.
“Are we cash cows? “That is the rhetoric we share.”
Additionally, students find it difficult to extend their visas – it is both time-consuming and costly, Viswanathan said.
Released on International Students’ Day, the 32 letter signees highlighted the contributions of the UK’s international student community.
“In addition to contributing… £20 billion to the UK economy…. a single cohort of international students can contribute £3.2 billion through income taxes and National insurance to the UK over 10 years,” they wrote.