Written evidence submitted by the University
of Manchester Students' Union (SV24)|
1.1 In response to the proposed changes to student
visas the University of Manchester Students' Union (UMSU) surveyed
international students currently studying at the University of
Manchester between 20 December 2010 and 11 January 2011. Our aim
was to investigate how changes in the current system of visas
may have affected their choice to study in the UK and collate
qualitative evidence around this issue. We particularly focused
on the Tier 1 Visa as this strongly affects our students, but
a general theme about changes in the immigration laws came out
in the responses which negatively affects.
1.2 Section 2 outlines why, in order to maintain
a competitive University system and economy, being attractive
to international students is extremely important. It also lays
out the benefit which having international students in our job
1.3 Section 3 lays out a sample of the findings
if our survey in relation to the Tier 1 Post Study Work Visa.
We have included a series of quotes to illustrate the themes which
our survey pulled out.
1.4 Section 4 includes some brief responses to
some of the proposals which have been made in relation to international
students. We have also included an Appendix of the questions we
asked in the survey.
1.5 Finally it seems important to note there
is a strong feeling from the international community in the University
of Manchester on this issue. In the space of three weeks in a
holiday period nearly 1000 students responded to an online survey
with no prize draw purely because they felt it was important their
voice was heard on this issue.
2. THE IMPORTANCE
THE UK ECONOMY
2.1 International students provide Universities
with a large amount of revenue which will be increasingly important
in light of ongoing cuts to Higher Education. They also help home
students gain global competencies which make them more competitive
in the international job market. In the 2010 CBI Education and
skills survey, businesses identify graduates' foreign language
skills and international cultural awareness as key skills and
two of the bottom four skills they are least satisfied with..
2.2 Based on the assumption that international
students are an intrinsic element to the continuation of a healthy
University system and UK economy. It is important for the UK to
remain competitive in attracting strong international students
in order to maintain its status as having some of the best Universities
in the world. Therefore we surveyed students on issues which would
affect their decisions to study in the UK.
3. THE IMPACT
1 POST STUDY
3.0.1 The responses of international students
show two clear trends in the reasons for why cancelling the PSW
would be detrimental.
3.0.2 Firstly, on a practical level it is harder
to apply for post graduate and postdoc work without a post study
visa and increases the likelihood that students will apply to
Universities in other countries. It is also harder for companies
to employ international students as there is a reliance on the
PSW as not all companies can be sponsors.
3.03 Secondly, these impracticalities have a
strong impact on the perception of the UK being a bad choice for
international students gaining reputation of being unwelcoming
to foreign talent. It is also harder for Universities to attract
the strongest international students as being able to work with
a degree qualification is seen as part of a package for paying
higher fees and coming to another country. This impacts the flow
of future applications and in turn feeds into the first issue.
Currently the market for international students is extremely competitive
and areas such as visas are a strong factor in prospective students
choices. In our survey 86.1% of students said that the PSV was
a factor in their decision to study in the UK with 87.3% classing
it as either an Important or Very Important factor.
3.0.4 Many students talk about their desire to
use their experience to help improve both the British system and
that of their home country. There should be no doubt that these
people are future leaders and have the potential to be advocates
for the UK in their chosen career paths as this Venezuelan student
3.0.5 "The opportunity of working outside
my country represents not only the possibility of expand experiences
as a professional together with the education already acquired
but also the possibility of repaying to this country what I have
got in educational experience...having the chance of working temporarily
in the UK would have invaluable repercussions in my self-fulfilment
both as a person and a professional."
3.0.6 This section is split into different areas
of potential impact which our students identified if the PSV was
- the impact on Universities;
- the effect on British companies;
- the value PSV adds to the appeal of a UK University
- recommendations of the UK.
3.1 The impact on Universities
3.1.1 38.8% of those who answered the question
"were you planning to conduct research or teach in the UK?"
responded "Yes" with 23.6% "Undecided". 97%
of these students said that the changes to PSW would affect their
3.1.2 Below are some of the responses students
gave when asked how losing the PSW would affect their decision:
3.1.3 "It would make finding an academic
post in a British university almost impossible" PhD in Education
3.1.4 "I am a Post Graduate student of Computer
Science and had plans of taking up research in my area of study.
The UK universities are a great place for academics. I was really
looking forward to being able to stay here for some time and do
some good work. Students like me, who are here to actually study
and serve the community are the ones who will suffer if the Tier
1 PSW is cancelled." PhD Computer Science
3.1.5 "I will not consider doing my Masters
or PhD in the UK in future." BSc Biomedical Sciences
3.1.6 "I was planning to work with the University
for developing a new course for the new master's programme. It
will be difficult to get a work sponsorship right after I finish
my PhD. Post study visa would have given me the time to process
3.2 The effect on British companies
3.2.1 Currently not all British companies can
be sponsors for the Tier 2 Visa and therefore the PSW is essential
for them to employ talented international students, who not only
bring their academic qualifications with them, but also the ability
to make British companies more internationally competitive. This
is particularly likely to be the case for smaller companies and
those expanding, preferring to issue certificates of sponsorship
to international staff at a higher level.
3.2.2 "It can potentially prevent me from
accepting a full time work offer already received from a British
company." MBA student
3.2.3 "Virtually no employers in my chosen
field of work can sponsor a Tier 2 work permit due to their (typically)
small size." BA International Business, Finance and Economics
3.2.4 "I was planning to stay in the United
Kingdom, the place with the best legal system, and provide my
services in betterment of the system." BA Law
3.3 The value PSW adds to the appeal of a
UK University experience
3.3.1 Many students feel that although British
degrees are valuable in themselves, it is the package of work
experience which makes them competitive especially as often they
do not view the skills gained in a degree as directly mapping
across to their chosen career. There is a strong feeling amongst
international students that as they have been educated in the
UK they can provide valuable talent and skills to the UK economy
and also their home countries. This seems like a legitimate fear
as many students raised the issue that this would make them: "less
competitive after going back to [their] home country"
(MSc in Marketing). If this perception continues to be widespread
then it will be a significant challenge for UK institutions to
present themselves as competitive in relation to other countries
which are offering more generous visas.
3.3.2 "The work experience here is almost
as important as the Master degree I will get." MSc Marketing
3.3.3 "One of the main reasons I chose UK
for my masters was the PSW visa. I want to gain experience and
apply the theoretical knowledge gained into real life situations."
Msc Management of Projects
3.3.4 "My long term desire might be to go
and work in high education in Rwanda but i would value at least
a 2 years experience before that!" PhD Religion and Theology
3.3.5 "Would make my education incomplete
since the work experience is a major part of what you would want
to take away from your training in UK and hopefully apply it to
make a change for the better back home." PhD Biotechnology
3.3.6 "Without this [work experience], the
UK seems less attractive. It is rather appalling at the age of
globalisation and attracting the best talents regardless of origin,
the UK is choosing a step backward." PhD Law
3.4 Desire to recommendations the UK
3.4.1 80.2% of students said that the cancellation
of PSW would significantly affect their recommendation of the
UK to potential students and as we have laid out future international
students are an important source of income and talent to UK Universities.
Word of mouth recommendations are crucial to recruitment of international
students and this reflects trends of feelings towards any changes
in making it harder to become into the UK.
3.4.2 "After spending such a significant
time of my life in the UK, at an age where I feel my contribution
to society and my spending as a consumer is quite significant,
I somewhat expect to be facilitated access to employment market
in one way or another. Otherwise, it would become a case where
the UK is charging very high tuition fees for international students,
on a long period, without giving any advantages to students in
return. Would the best and brightest students still want to come
study in the UK? I'm afraid not." PhD in Business Administration
3.4.3 "I will stop recommending anybody
to come and study in the UK." PhD Engineering and Physical
3.4.4 "As I see it, these measures would
be a significant step backwards for the UK in every sense other
than perhaps the most short-term financial considerations. This
would certainly not bode well for the UK's image as a cosmopolitan
nation." BA Chinese and Japanese Studies
3.4.5 "Scrapping this gives the impression
that international students are not wanted in the country."
MSc Advanced Chemical Process Design
3.4.6 "It disappoints me... the reputation
of UK universities are going down because of these changes."
BA International Business, Finance, Economics
4.1 Importance of maintaining PSW for current
4.1.1 There was a very real concern amongst the
students surveyed about whether the PSW would be cancelled for
them and a feeling not only of betrayal but extreme worry about
what this might mean for the future of themselves and their dependents.
4.1.2 "It will interrupt my every decisions
such as looking future for my career. It will seriously hamper
the academic life of my daughters . Specially we had a plan that
my elder will attend her GCSE exam in 2013. I am afraid she might
not be able to attend her exam if the new rules take action."
PhD in Drama
4.1.3 The possibility of losing this route is
"making my decision complicated and frustrating" PhD
4.1.4 "I would feel deceived if this act
comes into place during the middle of my course."
4.1.5 "I understand that it is important
to set a limit to the number of immigrants or non-EU students
coming into the country. But, I believe it is very unfair to international
students with the necessary credentials, promised a temporary
post study visa to have a chance of finding a job in the UK after
they graduate while they were applying for a study visa."
4.2 Applying for another course from overseas
4.2.1 The suggestion that students would have
to apply for another course from their home country was an area
which does not seem to benefit either the UK or the individual
students as it will be timely and costly for, individuals, Universities
and the boarder agency.
On the whole the response from students was one of
confusion about how this could be of a benefit for anyone and
would increase the potential for strong students to apply for
different countries for their PhD rather than retaining loyalty
to the UK. These were some of the responses when asked how they
would feel about
4.2.2 "My suggestion is: for students deciding
to change course AND stay at the same institution where they initially
applied, the procedure could be done from WITHIN UK. For students
deciding to change course AND university, the procedure should
be done overseas." PhD in Business Administration
4.2.3 "will have negative effect on the
number of international students" BA Econ (Economics and
4.2.4 "it is a waste of time and money and
forces the students to start over again in terms of looking for
housing and resettling in the UK." M.Eng Civil Engineering
4.2.5 "it will make students think twice
before applying to further education in the UK." Msc Innovation
Management and Entrepreneurship
4.2.6 "If this happens, I think I will go
to the USA to do my PhD because both countries need a re-application."
PhD Computer Science
4.3 Need to show evidence of academic progression
4.3.1 The majority of international students
who responded felt this wouldn't be a problem, although it was
felt that what "academic progression" was defined as
would need to be clearly laid out. It should be remembered that
to be accepted onto a Masters or PhD programme students have to
already show clear evidence of progression.
4.3.2 Potentially this is an additional piece
of admin for institutions they will have to perform for international
students. It seems important that Universities should not be allowed
to use this as an excuse for extra costs to international students.
4.4 Ability to work restricted to only on
campus during the week
4.4.1 There were mixed feelings about this suggestion,
however for those where work is necessary for them to study their
concerns were similar to this student's views:
4.4.2 "There isn't enough jobs on campus.
If you work off campus, organizations have some expectations from
you. You won't be able to fulfil their weekday requirements so
ultimately there is a large possibility for the student not getting
a job off campus." PhD Textile Technology
4.4.3 There was also a feeling that the current
rule of 20 hours a week allowed flexibility whilst not flooding
the job market.
QUESTIONS FROM THE SURVEY
"IMMIGRATION CHANGES: YOUR VIEW"
RUN BY UMSU 20
DECEMBER 2010 TO 11 JANUARY 2011
1. What is your stage of study?
2. What is the name of your Faculty?
3. What is the name of your Course/Programme?
Tier 1 Post Study Visa
1. Without the PSWV, would you still have chosen
to study in the UK?
2. Was the Tier 1 post study visa a factor in
your decision to study in the UK?
3. How important a factor was it in your decision?
4. Were you planning on using the Tier 1 Post
study Visa after graduating?
5. How would the cancellation of the Tier 1 Post
study Visa affect your plans in the UK?
6. Assuming the PSWV was cancelled; would this
affect your recommendation of the UK to potential students?
1. Have you studied at another education provider
in the UK (language programmes, sixth form, Undergrad etc)?
2. Were you planning to conduct research or teach
in the UK?
3. If you answered yes or undecided to question
2, would the proposed changes affect your decision?
4. The UK Borders Agency (UKBA) is also considering
whether students should be required to leave the UK and re-apply
for another course from overseas. What is your view about this
5. Students wishing to remain in the UK to extend
their studies after having completed their initial course will
have to show clear evidence of academic progression. Will this
be a problem?
6. Under the new proposals, students will only
be allowed to work on campus during the week in term time. You
would be allowed to work off campus during weekends and vacations.
Do you perceive any difficulties with this?
7. Remove right of dependants to work in the
UK unless they get permission under Tier 2 or Tier 1. If your
dependant is not allowed to work what impact would this have on
8. Why are you studying in the UK?
9. Any other comments you would like to air?
Eg alternatives to the government's plans or why the government
shouldn't scrap PSWV.