Sheffield students have made a pledge to always be welcoming to the international community in the city, despite current uncertainties for EU students because of Brexit.
They signed their pledge at the #WeAreInternational parade, after marching from the Sheffield Students’ Union to Weston Park to celebrate cultural diversity in the city.
Sheffield is home to more than 140 different nationalities and at The University of Sheffield there are currently over 10,000 international students, who contribute to the local community.
Together, the University, the International Students’ Officer at the Students’ Union and the International Students’ Committee (ISC), organised this parade to encourage this diversity to be preserved at all times, even as the number of students from the EU is expected to drop drastically after Brexit.
Aritro Dutta, Chair of ISC, said: “It is important for international students who come from different parts of the world that they feel at home.
“This place takes pride in being inclusive and we promise to always think about each other and keep strongly believing in a world with no borders, a world where we do not discriminate each other – rather we celebrate our differences and share our values, cultures and even food.”
In the past almost three years Brexit has been challenging this concept of a world with no borders for the thousands of EU students in the UK.
Universities and other education providers have made it clear that students from abroad are still welcome and preserving the international community is a top priority.
However, uncertainties about immigration and visa policies, tuition fees and funding have made current and future EU students, pursuing higher education in the UK, worry about their status here.
According to recent plans of the Education Secretary Damian Hinds, EU students are threatened to lose their home fee status, which would result in tuition fees up to four times higher than the £9,250 they are currently paying.
This would also mean limited funding in the form of student loans and grants, which could deprive many talented young people from the opportunity to pursue high-quality higher education in the UK.
“I say this with a very heavy heart that Brexit is going to have a bad impact on our current and upcoming European students,” Aritro said. “Brexit is not just affecting European students but it is affecting the whole international community.
“As ISC, one of our main jobs is to cater and provide support to the international students in all the possible ways. We will be standing by the students always.”
To challenge the government’s plans, more than 100 representatives from Student Unions across the country have written to Mr Hinds, warning that the “only outcome will be to make it much harder for (and therefore significantly decrease the number of) European Union students who so benefit our institutions and society.”
EU students commencing their education in 2019 will keep their home fee status.
Decisions about 2020 are soon to be made, but uncertainty remains for the years after.