International Students’ Campaign Day of Solidarity

12 November 2015

The Union of Kingston Students aims to support and empower all its students, and acts as a strong collective voice for all students at Kingston University, particularly those who are marginalised or isolated. As such, we stand in solidarity with international students and we condemn the recent visa reforms introduced by the Home Office. We understand that the new regulations will affect our current and future international students in many ways.

Although the government’s attack on international students began in 2012 with the scrapping of the post-study work visa provision, the latest reforms are particularly chilling. On Monday 13th July 2015, the new set of rules from the Home Office included the removal of the established presence provision for those transferring to a Tier 4 (Student) visa. International students have to show they not only have money for their course, but also money to cover living costs. They must prove they have the full amount upfront to pay for the fees for their first year – or the entire course if it’s less than a year long. They must also show they have a fixed amount of money to cover living costs. As Kingston students are considered to be studying in London, from 12th November 2015 onwards, new applicants must show upfront that they have £1265 per month – which equates to a staggering £11,385. This has increased from a previous £1,020 per month (£9,180).

Proving financial ability could incur implications for international students who are elected into sabbatical officer roles in their students ’ unions, as well as medical students who are undertaking placements, and students who are re-sitting, re-submitting or extending their studies for an extra term.

The new academic progression rules mean that international students who have studied in the UK previously must show they are progressing from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s for example. If they want to study a course at the same or lower level, they must ‘justify’ why they want to do this, and it is at the discretion of the department in each institution as to whether or not this will be accepted.

The new changes also prevents Tier 4 dependants from taking a ‘low’ or ‘unskilled’ job, but they are allowed to take up full or part-time ‘skilled’ employment; however, the government hasn’t defined what ‘skilled work’ means.

There are also numerous implications for prospective or future university students. From 3rd August 2015, international students in publicly-funded Further Education (FE) colleges cannot work at all in order to support themselves (they were previously allowed to work 10 hours in term-time). From November onwards, FE students cannot extend their visas if they want to enter Higher Education (HE) – they must leave the UK to re-apply. Moreover, international students can only now spend a maximum of two years in FE.

The Union of Kingston students also extends its solidarity to immigrants, migrants, and refugees. We are appalled that the UK government has only agreed to accept a mere 4,000 migrants per year for the next 5 years. In addition to this, we condemn the new, chilling “Right to Rent” scheme in which all landlords must check the immigration status of new tenants from February 2016 onwards, and evict illegal tenants. The Shadow Home Secretary, Andy Burnham, has attacked the right to rent scheme and branded it as a modern-day equivalent of the “no dogs, no Irish, no blacks” signs. We believe the government’s anti-immigration laws are rooted in a culture of xenophobia and racism, and that we must stand together to show that migrants are welcome here: no human is illegal. We will continue to campaign for our students, and fight the continuous attacks on all international students and migrants.

We are supporting the day of solidarity that has been organised by NUS International Students’ Campaign and ratified by NUS’ National Executive Council (NEC) who passed a motion in September to encourage students across the country to get involved. If you are as appalled as we are at the government’s anti-immigration rhetoric, then join us to show your solidarity with international students, migrants, and refugees.

We are encouraging all students across all of our campuses to walk out of their lectures, tutorials, seminars, labs, and classes on Tuesday 17th November 2015: the morning walk-out will be from 10:30 – 10:45am, and the afternoon walk-out will be from 2:30 – 2:45pm. If you are participating in the action, please bring along your banners and placards, and tweet using the hashtag #students4migrants. We will protest in front of the main entrances to each campus; at Kingston Hill we will protest in front of the Business School.

You can make your banners and placards on 16th November from 12-2pm at either the Union Space at Penrhyn Road or at the Business Atrium at Kingston Hill.

More information about the walk-out can be found here: http://www.nus.org.uk/students4migrants

The official event page can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/940728172683776/

In Unity,

Your Sabbatical Officers team:

Aika Bugibayeva, Kingston Hill Officer

Erin Miskell, Knights Park Officer

Noor Khan, Penrhyn Road Officer

Lily Reif, Roehampton Vale Officer