Foreign Students Go Walkabout

By Ian Lawrence
Sir Lez Pat offers heartfelt congratulations to the UK Government for their new student visa regulations.

A Big thanks to the UK Home Secretary from the Oz Cultural Attache and everyone Down Under

G’day. Just heard my little possums that ahead of Labour’s March Visa rules, one group of Turkish students has decided not to go to Bournemouth but to spend tens of thousands in Australia instead – makes a change from Indians. The first of many groups I hope – good on you mate. How did Gordon Brown’s prudent/drongo government achieve this triumph/banana skin?

  • A stroke of genius only allowing foreigners to study long-term in the UK if they can already speak English – to GCSE level.
  • Making the UK Visa form the most difficult in the English speaking world.
  • Closing any school that helps students fill them in.
  • Charging would-be students nearly £700 for them.
  • Doubling the charge if they want to change schools.
  • True Blue hospitality – treating students as potential terrorists, illegal immigrants or money launderers – criminalising them. Great idea, we see nothing wrong with convicts!
  • Halving the number of hours they can work to 10.
  • Stopping them bringing their Sheilas with them.

Fair dinkum, what an inspired visionary policy transcending logic and common sense at this time of UK unemployment while at the same time Alan Johnson saying “we are not damaging a major part of the UK economy”! Real common touch cobber announcing it on the TV first, not Parliament and pushing it through without a vote.

So the Spirit of the Charge of the Light Brigade is not dead with you Poms charging heroically onto financial disaster under unequalled blinkered leadership. You show solidarity and the Spirit of the Blitz with the Tories saying the rules do not go far enough!

What generosity sacrificing UK jobs to help your Antipodean cousins! Brings tiers to my eyes.

A big Aussi thanks to our Commonwealth Chums, we are happy to welcome unemployed UK language school teachers, university and college lecturers, shop owners, publishers, hospitality workers, taxi drivers, exam board workers, even Sheilas with rooms to let and bankers, to come and work Down Under. For the paupers in the cheap seats, Lez Pat would welcome more jobless Brit Ex-Pats.

Already foreign students contribute 15 billion dollars a year to Oz – our third biggest export earner – and we let them work 20 hours a week, so send us more.

Anyone of you whingeing Poms wanting to join me in personally thanking the head of the UK Borders Agency responsible can contact Ms Lin Homer (DOH), UKBA CEO at 2 Marsham St, London SW1P 4DF, fax 0870 3369050, email lin.homer@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk. She gets my special commendation for Oz’s highest political award – the GSV (Gladiolus for Sticky-beak Valediction) for helping to close down those pesky UK language schools. Lin can put a snag on my barby anytime.

Again, thanks and good on you Home Sec.

Sir Lez Pat – Oz Cultural Attache
(aka one of many Bournemouth, UK teachers in decent schools likely to lose their job directly thanks to the UKBA)

Written by Ian Lawrence for Teflnet March 2010

© Teflnet

3 Comments

  • Michael Couchman says:

    I preferred the more direct approach and wrote this. With any luck I’ll be deported.

    “Well Lin Homer of the UK Borders Agency,

    You got your wish, and I’m in the first wave of Bournemouth language school teachers who wants a bloody good explanation as to why you thought the students I used to teach, who are presumably learning English in Australia, were unwelcome. I propose coming to your office for a face-to-face meeting so that you can state your case.

    Very angry regards,

    Michael Couchman
    michael.couchman@btinternet.com
    2010-03-23″

  • Ian Lawrence says:

    Still not received UKBA’s promised 11th March reply today the 21st.

    Still, this is nothing to the wait that students have to put up with and admittedly the year 2010 was not specified.

    Ian

  • Ian Lawrence says:

    Here is an update: I actually also sent the Sir Lez Paterson email to Lin Homer CEO of UKBA and got the following reply. I then replied to this pointing out that government platitudes (see below) did not address the issues and got a promise of their reply by 11th March which has failed to materialise to date.

    Dear Mr Lawrence

    Lin Homer has asked me to respond to your e-mail.

    We recognise that international students are of great benefit to the UK economy. The UK is a world class leader in the provision of further and higher education and that is something we wish to retain. The review of Tier 4, announced by the Prime Minister last November, was prompted because of concerns about the rise in applications from prospective students experienced in some parts of the world. The purpose of the review was to look at whether the current Tier 4 arrangements strike the right balance between facilitating access of genuine students and preventing abuse by economic migrants. We conducted the review jointly with colleagues from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The review was also conducted in consultation with the education sector and we drew heavily on their feedback to form the review’s recommendations. English UK represented English language schools.

    I appreciate that a there are concerns in the education sector as a result of these planned changes. However we believe that the changes strike the right balance by minimising areas of abuse whilst not deterring genuine students from coming to the UK.

    Jeremy Oppenheim
    Regional Director North East, Yorkshire & the Humber
    National Lead: Temporary Migration UK Border Agency
    Home Office http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/neyh
    ‘phone 0114 207 1773(Sheffield) 0207 035 0230 (2MS)
    fax 0870 336 9237
    e-mail Jeremy.oppenheim@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

    From: ian lawrence [mailto:ianlawrence33@hotmail.com]
    Sent: 02 March 2010 2:04 PM
    To:Oppenheim Jeremy Cc:Homer Lin Subject:student visa thanks

    Dear Mr Oppenheim/Lin Homer

    Please could you pass on my thanks and reply to Lin Homer UKBA’s policy – written in brackets. Having read your answer, I am greatly concerned that the UKBA may not be aware of the destructive impact of policies which appear not to have been thought through, hence this a grass roots view of the impact to raise awareness of any excesses.

    We recognise that international students are of great benefit to the UK economy. The UK is a world class leader in the provision of further and higher education and that is something we wish to retain… (I genuinely believe your stated views of the importance of foreign students to our economy however your actions and considerable damage caused to UK TEFL are at odds with these platitudes.)

    The review of Tier 4, announced by the Prime Minister last November, was prompted because of concerns about the rise in applications from prospective students experienced in some parts of the world…. (The rise in applications properly approached should have been viewed as bringing a valuable rise in this invisible export and a strengthening of the UK’s economy, rather than an opportunity to engage with right wing voters.)

    The purpose of the review was to look at whether the current Tier 4 arrangements strike the right balance between facilitating access of genuine students and preventing abuse by economic migrants…. (As a priority kindly re-examine the assumption that those who cannot speak English are more likely to be economic migrants and should be barred. Can students who obviously need more English tuition not be genuine students? . It is flawed and leading to severe economic damage . Consequently you have not struck the “right balance” instead you have opened yourselves up to accusations coming up with a bullying policy which unfairly labels those least able to articulate or defend their views as abusive economic migrants. These are a huge and vital part of our market and just as likely to be genuine students. Logically who is more likely to take away a UK citizen’s job? Certainly not someone who cannot even speak the language. Consequently you are simply closing the door on those who most need English tuition. Instead of striking of “the right balance between facilitating access of genuine students and preventing abuse by economic migrants.” you are minimising genuine students and facilitating economic abuse by closing down law abiding schools.)

    We conducted the review jointly with colleagues from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills…. (Was this dept really responsible for this flawed Tier 4 analysis preventing more than half the current GSV students on the incorrect assumption that all those of lower English level are economic migrants? If not, who was? Those responsible for this economic hara kiri need to explain the unnecessary damage caused.)

    The review was also conducted in consultation with the education sector and we drew heavily on their feedback to form the review’s recommendations… (Unfortunately the review listened to those who self evidently did not understand the TEFL market when you could have listened to your own experts – the British Council plus the language schools.)

    English UK represented English language schools… (The implication that you took any notice of the views of the head of English UK – Tony Millns – is plainly incorrect if one just listens to his comments on the English UK forums and his criticisms of the actions taken aired on Newsnight. He is heading the setting up a fighting fund to challenge tier 4. This is very far from your claimed “consultation” or implied listening to English UK’s feedback.)

    I appreciate that a there are concerns in the education sector as a result of these planned changes… (The constantly changing and inconsistent rulings of your own staff scarcely constitutes “planned changes”. Schools are being unfairly suspended when by your own rules they should be put in a category B. As Tony Millns pointed out you need to have people who understand education to avoid errors such as suspending state schools which were mistaken for language schools. The universities’ concerns are also being ignored when they point out that 45% of foreign students going to them were educated in UK language schools and this market is being put at risk.)

    However we believe that the changes strike the right balance by minimising areas of abuse whilst not deterring genuine students from coming to the UK… (Upon what evidence do you believe the right balance has been struck? Do you have any evidence of the amount of business being lost ? How did you come to this self congratulatory conclusion? I challenge you to produce any figures of your own of the amount of damage inflicted by these “planned changes” . Your assumption that no damage is being done to legitimate schools and students is also demonstrably incorrect. Locally over £1,000,000 was lost recently by just 2 schools which had been suspended and then reinstated by losing students who turned out to be genuine students by your own admission. If this can happen in just 2 schools in a fortnight what about the result to incomes and jobs nationally of the misapplication of your own rules. Think of the lost millions it brings into the country in income for teachers, lecturers, colleges, language schools, universities, publishers, landladies, taxi drivers, exam boards, culture, hospitality entertainment and tourism. Fears shared by the thousands of signaturies to the recent No 10 petition concerned about the damage done by Tier 4.

    As a matter of urgency try talking to genuine students, their agents and the vast majority of schools which are decent and you will see that the policies are doing irreparable damage to this once “world class leader”. To avoid further damage I strongly recommend that initiatives are thought through and discussed before launch. Tony Millns has warned your Mr Oppenheim that if your flag ship policy of a Highly Trusted Sponsor list went ahead “by the end of the year there would be fewer than 10 institutions on the list. I pointed out that for quite a number of our members, a 1% no-show rate would mean they would lose HTS status if 1 student failed to arrive after getting a visa and entering the UK.” This then demands a totally unrealistic level of attendance which even your home Office staff fail to achieve and leaves you open to charges of racism. In short you are driving students into the arms of our competitors because students are being made to feel unwelcome in the UK thanks to inconsistently applied unfair policies.

    There is a better balance, examine the model of the Canadian Government’s reaction to the same set of circumstances. They had genuine talks with their language schools and came up with sensible well thought out effective policies demonstrating that it is possible to curb economic migrants without penalising genuine schools and students: A genuine consensual approach the UK could learn alot from.

    Subject: RE: student visa thanks
    Date: Thu, 4 Mar 2010 10:00:03 +0000
    From: Jeremy.Oppenheim@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
    To: ianlawrence33@hotmail.com; Jeremy.Oppenheim@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
    CC: Lin.Homer@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

    Dear Mr Lawrence

    Jeremy has asked me to thank you for your e-mail. He has asked colleagues for advice and will respond by 11 March.

    Karen Milne Manager, Regional Director’s Office
    North East, Yorkshire and the Humber UK Border Agency
    1st Floor Seacole Building 2 Marsham Street SW1P 4DF
    Tel: +44 (0)207 035 3376 (2MS) +44(0)114 207 1774
    Fax: +44 (0)870 336 9237 http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk

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