Making international students feel welcome in the U.K.
With Brexit dominating most international news about the U.K., parents of school and university age students looking to send their children to the U.K. to study might be forgiven for wondering whether they will find a welcome waiting when they arrive. This is especially the case when they find themselves navigating the often tortuous requirements of visa regulations, simply to prove that they genuinely want to come and learn in one of the world’s greatest seats of learning. Sometimes this process can just seem too hard; and the question remains: am I actually wanted?
The good news is not only that the answer is ‘yes’, but also that MPs from across party lines in the U.K. Government have just issued a report which makes an extremely strong case for the mutual benefits of international students coming to the U.K.. The All Party Parliamentary Group on International Students, chaired by Lord Bilamoria and Paul Bloomfield MP, published their eagerly awaited report last week, and their recommendations to the U.K. Government could not have been clearer: after gathering evidence from hundreds of respondents across the spectrum of organisations which manage, educate and facilitate the arrival of international students in the U.K., the APPG came down firmly on the side of the benefits which such students bring, and the contributions that they make to national and global society. They recommended making it more possible for more international students to come to the U.K., and they pointed out that evidence showed the positive effect that these students had on U.K. national students, in encouraging them to take a more global view of the world - and, indeed, to travel more.
We live in a globally connected, wonderfully diverse world, and for future generations to be able to make the most of it - and safeguard its future - they need to experience life and learning in different parts of it. Everyone benefits from the cross-cultural understanding which comes from increased mobility, and as a result, there will always be room in the U.K. for international students and the value they bring. Hopefully, the door will be open even wider again shortly.
Dr Helen Wright is a former Head of a leading UK public school and is part of the William Clarence Education Advisory Board.
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