OUSU has attacked new proposals made by Theresa May, calling them an “attempt to pander to immigration scaremongerers,” in a statement released on 22nd December.
Their statement comes in response to the Home Secretary’s proposal that international students should be required to leave the UK following the completion of their degrees.
OUSU President, Louis Trup, and Vice President for Graduates, Yasser Bhatti, state that these ‘send home’ proposals will impact on “those students who are already legally in the UK, have invested substantial time and money on their studies, and are coveted by UK companies for the global experience and skills”.
“Such unwelcoming measures […] will mean that students from abroad are less likely to come to the UK in the first place and instead go to Australia, the USA, Canada and other competitors of the UK in higher education.”
Trup and Bhatti also express concern at the potential effects for the UK economy, claiming that “students will likely find other attractive opportunities in their growing and emerging markets, and the UK will lose out on the knowledge that these graduates accumulated in the UK.”
Currently, non-EU students may stay in the UK after graduation if they qualify for a UK work visa before their student visa expires. However, under Theresa May’s proposals, they would have to leave the UK and then reapply for a work visa.
Trup told The Oxford Student: “The message to Oxford based international students is that we at OUSU want you to be welcome in the UK. The message to Theresa May is stop trying to make international students feel unwelcome.”
The Home Secretary’s proposals have also attracted criticism from outside of OUSU. David Cesar-Heymann, Co-Chair of Oxford University Labour Club, accused the Conservatives of “trying to out-UKIP UKIP”.
He continued: “We should denounce this economically absurd proposal to send highly skilled workers back home […] Thus, I sympathize with OUSU’s statement condemning this policy.”
Theresa May and officials at Oxford University Conservative Association did not respond to requests for comment.