Posted on Mon 24 Apr 2017 at 12:26 by Hope Worsdale
Warwick prides itself on being an international university. A third of our students come from outside the UK, and our student body represents nearly 170 different nationalities from all over the globe. This is a community where friendships are forged across borders and where there is so much opportunity to enrich our lives, by discovering and learning from all the different cultures that are represented here. Having such an international student body is of benefit to everyone’s time at Warwick, and the University champions this notion.
As such, I would love to talk about how international students are treated equally to home students at institutions like Warwick; how they feel welcome, included and a truly valued part of our community. But, sadly, this is so often not the case.
International students, particularly those from outside the EU, face a range of barriers and challenges whilst studying in the UK. From repressive attendance monitoring to financial charges for healthcare access; from exploitation by landlords to rising hate crime and xenophobia - all of these things contribute to an atmosphere where many of our international members feel unwelcome, as SU President Luke explored in his recent blog. Of course, it’s true that many of these factors are beyond the remit of individual institutions (though that does not mean they should be ignored). However, one key example of blatantly unequal treatment, which universities have complete control over, is non-EU international tuition fees.
For too long now, non-EU international students have been paying considerably higher fees than their Home/EU counterparts, and these levels have continued to increase year on year. Thus, many international students are seeing their fees rise in the middle of their course, which can have knock-on impacts for funding and the financial burden placed on students and their families. Not only this, but the rate at which international fee levels are increasing each year is generally around 5%. The University claims this is simply an “inflationary” rise; but the government’s proposed inflationary rise for home students is positioned at just under 3%, meaning the University is clearly setting their own increase rates at an unjustifiably higher level for international students. And, what’s more, although the University claims their system is clear and transparent, information relating to tuition fees is not as accessible as it should be, and some courses are not even covered by the projected fees provided.
As an SU, it is abundantly clear to us that non-EU international students are fed up of this treatment, and that many feel as though they are valued for nothing more than the extortionate fees that they are forced to pay. Our international students deserve better, and it is within the power of the University to do better.
That’s why we are excited to launch our #FixTheFees campaign! We are demanding a fee system which is consistent, fair and transparent, and we need as many students as possible - both home and international - to get behind it. To kick off the campaign, we have created a petition which can be found here. So I urge you all to get signing, sharing and spreading the word! Together we can push for Warwick to be a University where international students do not feel exploited, and where every single student feels welcome.