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‘Nothing but cash cows’: International students banned from bringing families under new rules

AUSA VP for Communities hits back against restrictions

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

Photo by Yousef Alfuhigi via Unsplash

Significant numbers of international students have been banned from bringing their families to the United Kingdom, due to new rules by the UK Government.

The restrictions, announced by the Home Office in late May, prohibit all international students, with the exception of researchers, from including dependents on their student visas. Approximately 136,000 individuals travelled to the UK as dependents of someone on a student visa last year.

Here in Aberdeen, 4690 international students studied at the University in 2021/2022. Under the new system, all but 455 would have been prevented from bringing their families with them.

For AUSA VP for Communities Camilo Torres Barragan, the new policy directly harms international students.

He told The Gaudie, ‘This measure is just another attempt from the Tory government to appeal to their more right-wing voters preparing for the next election. Asides from being openly hostile against international students, especially the growing population of mature students with caring responsibility, it doesn't even achieve what the government expects, as many of these students come to the UK for less than a year and shouldn't even be counted as migrants. It also shows that we are considered nothing but cash cows and while the billions we bring to the UK economy are welcome, we are not.’

Torres Barragan called on the University to speak up for international students such as himself, commenting: ‘We're literally keeping the higher education sector afloat, while public funding falls in real terms. The least you'd expect would be our university and other HE institutions to be more vocal about these hostile measures.’

The Gaudie asked the University for comment on the new rules, but were directed to a statement by Universities Scotland.

In response to the ministerial statement from the Home Office, Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland said:

‘After months of speculation, we have clarity from the UK Government. We welcome the commitment to retaining the post-study work visa which benefits both students and employers. It also helps retain talent in Scotland which is critical given our demographic challenges.’

‘Less welcome is the decision to restrict visas to the dependents of international students below PhD level. It will be very important that the UK Government works with the sector, across the UK, to first understand and then reflect on the likely impact of these changes on universities and their wider communities…’

The statement went on to note that 4.75 billion pounds in revenue were generated by international students last year, and called on the government to make sure international students feel welcome in Scotland.

If you would like to learn more about the issues international students face when studying in the UK, you can follow AUSA's Borderless campaign on Instagram at @borderlessaberdeen.


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