A photo of a student protest with people carrying placards reading "free education now, tax the rich"

The National Union of Students (NUS) has hit out at proposals from the Westminster government to limit international students’ access to UK universities. According to reports, the government is considering limiting the universities and degree courses that international students can be recruited to as well as restricting the number of family members and dependents who are allowed to travel to the UK with international students.

The proposals are apparently designed to reduce overall levels of migration into the UK and would see international students only able to attend so-called ‘top universities’ and be restricted from undertaking ‘low-quality’ courses. The government has not specified what it deems to be a ‘top university’ or a ‘low quality course’.

Leaders from the UK’s student movement have hit back at the proposals, branding them “hugely cruel” and “grounded in hypocrisy”. In a joint statement, the Vice President Liberation and Equality from NUS UK – Nehaal Bajwa, the President of NUS Scotland – Ellie Gomersall, the President of NUS Wales – Orla Tarn, and President of NUS-USI – Chloe Ferguson said, “International students are our friends and colleagues, and benefit our lives at universities, colleges, in workplaces and communities across the UK beyond measure. The government is treating that rich diversity of experience and humanity like a number on a spreadsheet. This is hugely cruel to those students, who have taken the brave step of travelling to pursue their education and sometimes moving their families across the world.

“This move would be grounded in hypocrisy – the government starves the education sector of funding and forgoes concern for international students and migrant staff. This has encouraged and legitimised institutional strategy to exploit international students as cash cows through astronomical fees and violent visa regimes. Against the backdrop of the UK skills shortage, it is laughable that the government would be actively preventing international students from studying here.”

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Image credit: Socialist Appeal – Creative Commons