08 December 2010

As bad as it looks

Some minor furore on Twitter yesterday about this tweet from @UKHomeOffice:
Contribute your views to our consultation into how we can best reduce the number of students who come to the UK. 
There was a link to the Home Office website, where this consultation is taking place. 

There's no doubt that the twitter message is openly xenophobic, not to say racist. It is clearly based on the presumption that foreign students are a bad thing. Numerous twitter replies have pointed out that overseas students make a positive contribution to the UK economy, and that their fees can subsidise those of other students. On a less tangible level they push up the standards in universities, and ought to be a major part in spreading a good image of this country around the world.

The Government, I'm sure, would say that it's not how it looks. Its proposal is targeted at non-degree students, because such students have a record of overstaying their visas. So the easiest way to stop them overstaying is to stop them getting here in the first place (rather than, say, enforcing visas better - but that would require an efficient and effective Home Office, and we haven't had one of those for decades.)

Whatever. The twitter message and the only slightly different message on the Home Office website sends out a nasty message about this country. At the very best it's careless, but as so often carelessness reveals the true intentions, the underlying prejudice. So if you're tempted to say it's not as bad as it looks, I'd say how it looks is how it is. Someone at the Home Office is happy to spread the message that forriners is bad.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

well done Brian for raising this. The fact is that the Home Office is just showing its belligerent and clumsy side yet again. Have they heard of the concept of PR I wonder?

UK education export is one of our few export success stories of recent times and is essential to the financial well being of our universities in a time when the government has taken much of their funding away. There is clearly a debate that needs to happen about immigration and this should certainly look at some of the abuses that occurr within the student visa category, but the fact is that the government and the education sector already know where and why these occurr.

This government came in on a ticket of 'being tough on immigration' but now finds that tackling the real problems are expensive and require investment. So, in order to find something to please the anti-foreigner brigade they have come up with a plan which looks like it would cause much more harm than good.

I would encourage anyone interested in this debate to be hugely skeptical of the government's line on this and to investigate matters for themselves.