THE BLOG

Why I'm Boycotting My Graduation Ceremony In The UK (Hint: Theresa May)

03/11/2016 7:13 PM IST | Updated 07/11/2016 8:53 AM IST
NEW! HIGHLIGHT AND SHARE
Highlight text to share via Facebook and Twitter
AFP/Getty Images

Bigotry comes in all shapes and sizes and in the UK it comes in the form of Theresa May. As if life wasn't tough enough for Indian students already, Mrs. May decided to drop on us her policies of barely concealed xenophobia. It has hurt many already, mostly in the form of rejected job applications (as organizations are reluctant to hire non-EU citizens) and early deportation. She seems intent on keeping out as many Indian students as possible, never mind that such steps are likely to take much of the "Great" out of Britain.

We should be actively encouraging more international students to come and not less but they have been a collateral damage of a toxic migration policy. Paul Blomfield, Labour MP

Theresa May has already introduced over 400 amendments in the immigration rules and her government has made clear a commitment to reduce "net migration" to below 100,000.The government has done away with the post-study work visa, meaning that in order for students to stay in the country after completing their studies they will need a Tier 2 work permit visa and will in turn need to be earning at least £20,000 per annum. I myself have gone through the rigorous procedure of applying for a Tier 4 visa. At the Tory conference in October, she said, "There is more to life than individualism and self-interest. We succeed or fail together." She drew inspiration from the story of the triathlete Alistair Brownlee who gave up his chance to win the final race in the world series in Mexico to help his heat-dazed brother Jonny over the line. There is also one more quality those athletes displayed which she missed mentioning and that is the spirit of sportsmanship. To play fair. Which she and her government aren't at the moment.

I spoke to Labour MP and Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Higher Education, Paul Blomfield who says he is not in favour of the government's stringent visa policies. He said, "The government set out a target to reduce net migration to tens of thousands from hundreds of thousands. They said that in 2010 and realized it was a bit more difficult than that. International students are unambiguously good for our country. They enrich our campuses, they contribute to the cultural diversity of our cities and they contribute hugely economically... something like 7000 jobs depend on international students. We should be actively encouraging more international students to come and not less but they have been a collateral damage of a toxic migration policy. My argument is that we should value international students and encourage them to come to this country."

Sheffield Hallam University's International Director James Richardson reiterated the benefits of Indian students to UK Universities. He said, "Indian students provide vibrancy to the classroom in our universities across the UK. Their commitment to their studies is unrivalled, ensuring they graduate as amongst the highest achievers at Sheffield Hallam University. The dramatic decline of students from India studying in the UK as a direct result of changes in immigration policy has had a negative impact on the UK university sector and the wider local and national economies. For example, degree programmes, particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) subjects struggle to be viable in some institutions without Indian students, potentially denying the opportunity for UK students to take these degrees at a time our economy needs STEM graduates."

Places which invited me for job interviews turned me down after I enlightened them about my visa status... [it] is absolutely gutting and devastating.

Theresa May made it clear to the UK universities that if they wanted to survive, then they needed to attract overseas students, because she wasn't going to provide them funding. Universities have done this very successfully by bringing in very substantial fees, and so much so, that this is now a very significant part of their financing. In fact, it helps subsidize home students and fund university facilities. Besides this, the income it brings in to university towns, and hence the country, is considerable. Post Brexit, it is going to get extremely difficult for the government to make up for this shortfall and their tertiary educational establishments could move into financial difficulties, and any future developments will be curtailed as a result of Mrs. May's foolhardy policies.

I would like to give an example of where Mrs. May's policies affected me directly. I took a loan to study in the UK and went through the rigorous procedure of applying for a Tier 4 Visa. Within the ambit of the visa rules, I managed to gain work experience with Manchester United FC and even produced an official video for the Special Olympics GB Summer Games. However, now when I am trying to find a stable job in the UK, my applications are being rejected automatically without the organizations even having a glance at them because I am a Non-EU student. Places which invited me for job interviews turned me down after I enlightened them about my visa status. Companies cannot recruit skilled staff because of the cap on work visas. The Tier 4 Visa is like an external agent winnowing my hard work which is absolutely gutting and devastating. After spending a fortune to study in the UK, every student deserves a chance to gain some proper job experience.

I have immense respect for myself and for India and therefore won't tolerate such prejudiced behaviour from the PM of a country where I've paid a fortune to study.

Keeping the entire alarming and prejudiced situation in mind, I have decided to boycott my graduation ceremony which is to take place on the 17th of November. I love and respect my university as it has always been very supportive of me and my endeavours but I feel betrayed by the leadership of this country. I have immense respect for myself and for India and therefore won't tolerate such prejudiced behaviour from the Prime Minister of a country where I have paid a fortune to study. A few days back I received a job offer from Manchester United Supporter's Trust (the world's biggest sporting trust) and they mentioned in the email that I was "mind-blowing." Now the organization is considering going through May's complicated visa process. If I lose out on it, the loss is not mine, it's yours Mrs. May. I won't let your political agendas affect my future more than they already have. Also, it's time for my country to take further steps in correcting this situation.

Benefits Of These 9 Super Indian Spices

An Open Letter

More On This Topic