Having been a student very recently I thought that there may be a hint of bias in my reaction to the Conservative manifesto policy with regard to international and foreign students working in Britain. I thought that because I had worked alongside them, drank with them, partied with them and generally just been aware of their ambition and work ethic as well as the extraordinary cost they were paying to be there compared to me, I thought some bias would arise.
In this case though there is no bias, just good old common sense which saw easily and plainly through this policy charade by the Conservatives. Theresa May’s policy proposal for the next Conservative manifesto requiring students from outside the EU whose student visa’s expire after university to leave the country and then reapply for a working visa. This sounds both ridiculous and excruciatingly stifling to young foreign people who want to take up graduate jobs or continue their studies. I wasn’t fully aware that we were a country who made hard working, ambitious and, intelligent people who support the economy a scapegoat for the whole issue surrounding net migration figures which this Government has done very little to solve.
But I remind myself that the general election is around the corner and with UKIP taking on defecting Tories it isn’t enough just to blame ‘immigrants’. This Government is now focusing on sectors of the population that actually go to university to make a good and meaningful living, whilst paying taxes. Where it will all end, this whole blame game, I do not know but it seems to get more and more ridiculous.
Common sense prevails here because the UK economy benefits in many ways from international students coming to study here. A Department for Innovation and Skills report aptly demonstrates the financial contribution that international students make to the UK economy to the tune of £8 billion a year in tuition fees alone. In a more particular case to a regional and sub-regional level, a report published by Oxford Economics details that international students contribute over £200 million in the Sheffield area alone. Tuition fees are on thing but foreign students also help support the local economy and businesses. I know from personal experience that some of the bars, clubs, hairdressers and shops where I went to University rely heavily on burgeoning student numbers.
The issue isn’t even one of revenue or the economy, the primacy on soft power , on values and cultural openness today is as important as how many tanks or fighter jets your defence forces have. Global corporations want access to the best and brightest of a diverse workforce who have different cultural understandings and experiences. Companies don’t just work in Britain they work in China, they work in India or South America, they want people who understand these places and can speak the language. If Britain shuts itself off from an open world, like Russia has, then we won’t have the adaptable and tolerant mind-set to support a diverse economy that can guarantee prosperity in good times and endurance in tough times.
Theresa May’s policy is both ignorant and reactionary to the Conservative party’s own weakness on the right wing. For the sake of Conservative party cohesiveness they are bringing down Britain in the process with ill-thought out policies that risk our economy and our standing in the world.
I shall finish this with a clear-to-see contradiction between what the Conservatives say and what they plan to do. In the government’s recently published strategy for Science and Innovation it highlighted five key principles that should inform Science and innovation which are: excellence, agility, collaboration, place and openness.
Theresa May should look these words up in a dictionary I think.
By Connor Smart, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.