BRITISH NEW FEAR OF IMMIGRATION: FOREIGN STUDENTS AT RISK

Although overseas students bring into UK economy up to £10 billion every year and the majority don’t stay in the country permanently, young Britons feel threatened by migration, said a new poll by Ipsos Mori.

“The government sets the number for home students,” said Right2education on the Guardian online, adding “by lowering target numbers for abroad students there’s a possibility of increasing the numbers for us British. The financial side is a whole separate issue”

And Geoff1963 followed him: “Who cares about foreign students?? I care about English.”

Published last week, the Ipsos Mori survey shows that 75% of British aged between 16 and 24 believe immigration is currently a problem. In a period of crisis, Britons are concerned about the impact of foreign people on public services and work. In particular, international students are considered a threat because might stay in the UK and “steal” jobs.

“About 180,000 students came to attend university here in 2009. And how many went home? That’s the main problem,” wrote Russ J on the Guardian online.

The poll also shows more than 57% young British support the government’s plan, which in April will introduce an annual cap on the number of workers coming into Britain from countries outside EU. Although, there’s not a strong conviction that it will help to reduce the total immigration to the UK, “from the hundreds of thousands to the ten of thousands by the end of the current Parliament,” as the Home Office announced.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: “We expect the student route will make its contribution towards reducing net migration in the UK.”

On Monday, Immigration Minister Damian Green issued a written Ministerial Statement – which hasn’t been approved by the Parliament yet – that proposes to increase immigration and nationality application fees for all who apply to study, visit, work or stay in the UK.

As part of this plan, from April on, every foreigner could face more selective approach to admissions in British universities and also find a cap to visa releases: it doesn’t matter if he’s skilled.

One of the priorities of the government, said the Home secretary Theresa May, is to “ensure that the number of students coming to the UK is broadly in balance with the number leaving.” This means that thousands of students from non-European countries risk being rejected from universities and colleges if they plan to stay too long, regardless to what is written on their cvs.

According to a a new research from Ippr, this cap will cost the UK billions of pounds and also the educational institutes will be badly hit by the reduced international student numbers. At a time where funding is already very tight, universities may face loss of jobs, closure of some courses, increase in students’ fees.

So, where is the problem if student immigration brings money and there’s a continuous change? An answer could be in how the situation is perceived by British people. Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos, suggested: “With the vast majority of people getting their information on immigration from broadcast and print media, the exceptional stories that appear in the press have clearly had an effect on the Britons.”

Last month, a report of the pressure group MigrationWatch has been widely covered by the media. It claimed that foreign students working illegally cost the British taxpayer £500m a year, and said that external students may not go back to their countries with grave implications for the British pockets, either if they stay legally or illegally in the UK.

In spite of this, the Ippr research found that a relatively small proportion of student “migrants” stay in the UK for five years or more (not more than 20%) and only 10% stays permanently.

“I’m attending a one-year master in Psychology at UCL, and I really like both the course and life in London,” said Tereza, 27-year student from Czech Republic, and added: “But I’ve never planned to stay here all my life: as I finish my course I’ll go back to Prague.”

Sara Mulley, Associate Director for Migration, Trade and Development of Ippr commented on the Guardian online: “This data means that even large reductions in student immigration will deliver only small reductions in net migration.”

Unless they manage to settle down well, the majority of students stay in Britain only temporarily.

There’s nothing to be scared of.

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