Immigration, Immigration, Immigration Featured

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It is a dangerous thing, 'us vs them' politics. The present government has been particularly reliant on this tactic in the face of widespread anxiety that support is being lost in favour of parties such as UKIP. The first debate to stem from this was the issue of those on welfare benefits. That argument is settled with the unfairness of the 'bedroom tax' acknowledged and the claim that £53 a week is more than enough. The debate has now turned to the new 'them', immigrants and in particular foreign students. Whilst in terms of welfare, Labour was quick to take a stand to support them, the tragic fact is that no major party is standing up for the rights of those who come to our country, leaving most of the population oblivious to the tragic effects of the harsh new policies being enacted.


 If you are an international student, you will already be aware of the excessive hostility aimed in your direction. Along with the continuing check-ins at universities to confirm to the government that you are still legal, the new immigration bill will now enact the same practice when dealing with landlords and doctors, and on top of this, a £200 annual charge is now required to use the NHS. This in particular strikes of great unfairness. Despite already paying more than domestic students for their courses, they are still viewed somehow as getting more out of the system than they put in, and are not able to enjoy the benefits of free healthcare despite benefiting the economy. Coupled with the vans driving around London until recently with 'Go home' emblazoned on them, I wonder why many would choose to come at all.


Our universities are globally recognised as amongst the best in the world, and a key aspect is attracting the best international students. Universities are now finding themselves in the difficult position of advertising internationally, yet facing questions about how welcome the environment their advertising actually is. When we consider that the Department for Innovation and Skills revealed that international students are worth £8 billion to the economy, creating a hostile environment will lead to a larger economic gap which will need to be filled. The cost of a Britain free from global influence is a very large price indeed. We can already see this happened, when the government recently gave itself a pat on the back for lowering immigration, yet few realised this is primarily due to falling numbers of students. Rather than applauding, we should be devastated.


What I really want to put across is that rather than this being an issue for 'them' that we should not concern ourselves with, it is rather an issue for 'us'. This will dramatically affect our country if we refuse to embrace other individuals on account of where they were born. Not only is there a problem in terms of students and the national income from them, but another wider problem exists in regards to the ageing population. We need only look to Japan with its elderly population and increasingly pressurised welfare system. Japan is known to be not particularly embracing of immigrants, and looking there, we can see the future of our own nation, which is very much rather bleak. If we dissuade people not to come to Britain, what will happen then in 2050 when our elderly population is almost double what it is now, at 19 million? Who is to pay for the top-heavy age structure we will have? This question need not be rhetorical if we allow immigrants to fill the gap. 


I hold nothing but shame in Britain's attitudes towards those who wish to come to the country and work or study. To create a culture of hostility for honest people is to isolate the UK and watch it slowly degenerate. We need to, as a nation, realise that both morally and practically we cannot keep up rhetoric which keeps us in our enclosed little world on the fringes of Europe. To avoid a business or welfare crisis, the answer is simple: cease the war on 'them' and use 'us' to include, not vilify.


Stephanie Skarbek

I'm in my second year studying English Literature and Language at Leeds. In my spare time, which I never seem to have a lot of, I like to draw, play the drums and watch Korean films. I also write short stories, and spend my time investing in comic books and cheap clothing on ebay!

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