Covid-19 has created an unprecedented crisis and response for all affected in the UK. Yet, the government’s response has still managed to let down those most vulnerable and at risk i.e. migrants, because they do not have access to a safety net, and are being forced into destitution and hardship.
In June this year, the Migrants’ Rights Network and Unis Resist Border Controls surveyed tier 4 international students to get a better perspective on how Covid-19 lockdown measures here and abroad were impacting them.
- We had 124 respondents from 31 universities across the UK with 28 nationalities represented. Two-thirds of the respondents were male.
- 81 students approached their university for support, advice and hardship funds. Of these 38 received some form of support/ advice and/or hardship fund. There were 12 who were rejected for hardship funds, and 28 who at the time of the study were awaiting a response.
- 70 of the 124 students (56%) believed they were destitute or at risk of becoming destitute. Some had been able to access support via mutual aid group’s but others had failed to find an organisation that could support them.
The experiences of tier 4 international students largely mirrored those of other migrants who have been facing hardship and poverty but they have an additional issue regarding their precarity based on the threat of being suspended from their courses, and their student visa’s being revoked because they are unable to pay their tuition fees as per some universities demands.
There is a woeful lack of support structures in place within UK higher education for tier 4 international students. Some tier 4 students are too afraid to seek out help when needed for fear that this may impact upon their immigration status.
Alongside a collective of migrant rights, anti-racist, student groups and unions we have also written to the Home Secretary and asked to end no recourse to public funds (NRPF) for tier 4 international students.
Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham and Nadia Whittome, MP for Nottingham East, join over 500 university students, lecturers, trade union, and migrant rights organisations in calling for an end to no recourse to public funds for Tier 4 international students.
In a second letter addressed to Michelle Donelan, Minister of State for Universities, URBC and MRN are demanding a tuition-fee amnesty for Tier 4 students affected because of COVID-19 pandemic. The letter has gathered 530 signatures from Rhodes Must Fall Oxford and from UCU representatives.