In an video that tugs at the heart strings, and aims to regain some reputation for the UK’s commitment to international students’ welfare, Daniel Stevens, International Students Officer, explains how the NUS stepped in to help students straight away and launched a three-pronged campaign to urge the government to reconsider its action – succeeding in earning a reprieve for the 2,600 students affected, enabling them to remain in the country for the duration of their course.
“We stepped in even before the decision was announced, so as soon as decision was leaked to The Sunday Times, we were within two days at London Met,” explains Stevens in the video.
The action that NUS took was firstly, organising a silent demonstration outside 10 Downing St (as captured in the video, above); secondly, using evidence-based campaigning and sitting on the taskforce to represent the international student voice; and thirdly, committing to challenging UKBA in court over its decision.
Adnan Pavel, VP of the Students Union at London Met, explains that the message of the demonstration was “£30,000, no voice”.
“The damage to the UK’s international reputation from the London Met debacle can’t be underestimated”
In October, the government ruled that international students had been granted a reprieve. “This was a great victory against a wrong decision,” said Pavel.
Stevens told The PIE News, “The damage to the UK’s international reputation from the London Met debacle can’t be underestimated. This was headline news across the world. The reality is that is the same event could happen at another UK university.
“In fact, this continues to happen at private colleges as we speak [such as Bilston College]. The process of what happens when an institution loses its HTS has still not been revised.”
This week Boris Johnson, London’s Mayor, is in India, and he also weighed in to the debate about protecting international students’ rights.
The NUS is keen to disseminate its message, that it is “a national voice for students – wherever they are from”. Said Stevens, “It’s also important that .. people understand the power a national movement can have when it works alongside students, students’ unions, trade unions and sector bodies to create change.”
NUS is also campaigning to internationalise students unions around the UK, under a banner, “One Campus, Many Cultures”, and former NUS President, Liam Burns, recently wrote a blog about how the UK must redouble its efforts to make international students feel more than cash cows.