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Dear Sunday Times: you are wrong about international students

Wednesday 9 August 2017

NUS International Students' Officer Yinbo Yu responds to the Sunday Times' piece 'Universities take foreign students ahead of British, drive for higher fees betrays sixth formers.'

“Over the weekend, the Sunday Times ran a damaging and ill-informed piece about international students, which draws on the dangerous anti-immigrant rhetoric which is becoming all too common in the UK. This will only increase the prejudice and hate faced by international students, who are already significantly more likely to be the victims of crime than their UK counterparts. 

"The data used in the piece showed the numbers of UK students declining over the past ten years, but included figures from all higher education providers, regardless of whether or not they recruit international students. This includes part-time courses, online courses, higher national courses, and teacher training: all of these have seen a significant decline in numbers, and none of them recruit international students. It is therefore disingenuous at best for the Sunday Times to suggest that this decline is a result of more international students being recruited.

"While UK students require more funding per student than they pay in fees, international students generate a significant surplus for the institutions they study at. This, by default, would mean that international students fund the education of home students. As data from Universities UK and the 157 Group has shown, the fees of international students contribute to supporting courses and programmes which would otherwise be shut down allowing home students a greater variety of courses to pick from. The funding provided by international students also supports universities to run their required widening participation schemes, which opens up higher education to students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

"The contributions that international students make to life on university campuses are invaluable. A recent NUS survey of UK students found that 75% of home students believed that their university experience would suffer without their international peers. We are a vital part of the UK university system and we must be recognised as such. We refuse to be used as pawns in a political game and we will campaign tirelessly against the hate fuelled rhetoric which is constantly thrown our way. To all my fellow international students: well done for making it this far.”