‘Deep concern’ over threat to welcoming overseas students

The University of Sheffield and Students’ Union this week expressed “deep concern” that the UK’s reputation for welcoming international students is being damaged by negative messages about immigration.

In a joint statement they said: “It is our shared belief that the truly international educational experience which has characterised the UK’s higher education system for decades plays a crucial role in building understanding between young people of many nations, challenging cultural barriers and in the process providing the first-hand experience of different cultures which is so vital as we strive for a better, more peaceful world.”

In particular, concerns are being raised about a new Immigration Bill that proposes a healthcare levy of at least £200 a year for international students and that landlords check the visas of anyone who appears to be “foreign”.

Any potential for discriminatory practices is also “a cause for concern” for any black or minority ethnic residents of the UK.

An independent report commissioned last year by the University found that international students generated £120m for the local economy, taking account of any NHS costs.