L’accès à l’enseignement supérieur au Royaume-Uni risque d’être plus restreint que prévu pour les étudiants étrangers. La London Metropolitan University s’est en effet vu retirer le droit de parrainage des étudiants étrangers (hors Union européenne), à la suite de l’étude réalisée par l’organisme de surveillance des frontières, la UK Border Agency. L’université aurait permis la délivrance de visas en acceptant des étudiants étrangers sans être trop regardante quant à leur niveau scolaire. Cette démarche lucrative a été sanctionnée par le premier ministre David Cameron qui entend durcir sa politique d’immigration. Des centaines d’étudiants risquent d’être expulsés s’ils ne trouvent pas une autre université où s’inscrire. A trop vouloir mener une politique du chiffre, Londres risque de perdre son image cosmopolite…
At the beginning of September, the London Metropolitan University lost its license to sponsor overseas students. The UK border Agency accused the University of not paying enough attention to the level of students, who are an important source of funding for the university as the student population is made up of 15% of international students. Indeed, the UK border agency noticed that plenty of registered students weren’t able to speak English correctly. The survey also showed that a few students who were accepted to the University continued studying long after. So the London Met University’s system would be a good way to get visas easily. The announcement caused quite a stir. Minister of Immigration Damian Green stated in an interview for Times that it wasn’t possible to issue so many visas in that way. He added he must remain skeptical about the level of every student who is admitted. To his mind, as the ruling coalition has inherited of an out-of-control immigration system, reforms have to be made by the government as quickly as possible.
Prime Minister David Cameron wants to meet his immigration goals at all costs by reducing student immigration. Isn’t this sanction too severe? Indeed, the government has decided to suspend the LMU’s sponsorship of all foreign students, but many of them are talented and have really met the criteria to be accepted… Must we explain that David Cameron promised to reduce the number of immigrants entering the country by as many as 216 000 per year by 2015? In a speech delivered in 2011, David Cameron certainly insisted he intended to curb family reunification, increase the minimum annual wage and allow immigrants to work in the United Kingdom. But now David Cameron is far from meeting these objectives. So overseas students could be an easy target to achieve his immigration policy: first of all, the rate of student immigration accounts for 40% of the total immigration and students are actually a group that is easier to control.
However immigration of young people is an important source of economic growth for Great Britain. For example, a recent Oxford Economics case-study conducted at Exeter University showed that “every ten international students support six British jobs”. Moreover sixty-eight directors of London universities have recently written a letter to the government to insist that they needed foreign students to finance their institutions. Britain is jeopardizing its best export, education. And to David Willetts, the universities Minister, this is also London’s international reputation, as an open and cosmopolitan city, which the government decided to jeopardize. The students at the London Met University definitely intended to make the Prime Minister understand it, when they demonstrated outside the Home office on September 5th .
Zoélie DUPERIER & Larisse MARTIAS