Note From the Editor
United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak asserted that migration was under control despite the increase in population as reported in the 2022 data of the Office for National Statistics. It showed a net migration of 606,000, a 164,000 rise from 2021. Sunak recognized the increase in figures and declared a desire to reduce them.
In Canada, contrary to the UK’s restrictions on foreign students’ families, the government has implemented a new policy to expedite the processing of family reunification applications. The initiative will speed up the process and strengthen family reunification as it uses cutting-edge technology and analytics to process applications.
All these and more key developments from the United States, Australia and China in this week’s edition of MSM Reporter.
Texas lawmakers proposed significant changes that will impact the operations of colleges and universities, focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and tenure. While the bills await Governor Greg Abbott’s signature, they represent a substantial pushback against what Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick calls “woke policies” in higher education. The final versions of the bills differ from their initial proposals, with DEI programs set to be dismantled, but tenure surviving with new conditions. The legislation would codify tenure into law but make it easier for institutions to revoke it from individual professors. The DEI bill prohibits DEI offices, mandatory DEI training, and statements from educational institutions, potentially affecting recruitment, retention, and research efforts. Abbott plans to sign the DEI bill, while Patrick is urging a special session to ban critical race theory from colleges and universities.
The New Democratic Party of Canada urged the government to suspend the deportation of 150 Punjabi students who entered the country with forged college acceptance letters, as disclosed by the Canadian Border Security Agency. The students claimed they had been deceived by an immigration consulting agency in India that provided them with fraudulent documents without their knowledge. In a recently released statement, the NDP emphasized that these international students, who were misled by deceptive recruiters, should be considered victims of the fraudulent act.
The Westminster government’s decision to ban the families of international students has come under fire as “self-destructive” in light of recent data showing that international students contribute more than £4 billion (About $4.94 billion) to the Scottish economy. Despite its economic boost, concerns have been raised that international students may choose to study elsewhere following the UK government’s decision to prohibit family members from joining post-graduate non-research students. This announcement comes as the latest immigration figures show a record-high net migration to the UK, including Ukrainian refugees and the Hong Kong resettlement scheme.
The Office for National Statistics confirmed that in 2022, immigration caused the UK’s population to increase by 606,000. More people entering the country on work and student visas, as well as through the Ukraine and Hong Kong schemes, according to the ONS, are partly responsible for this rise. Despite the large numbers, Prime Minister Sunak claimed that migration was under control. According to ONS data, an estimated 1.2 million persons arrived in the UK in 2022, while 557,000 left during the same year, resulting in a net migration of 606,000—a 164,000 rise from 2021. Sunak recognized that the figures were excessive and declared a desire to reduce them without specifying a specific target.
Recent media reports indicate that the high cost of living and lack of housing options present significant obstacles for international students in Australia. These reports emphasize the possibility of destitution, health problems, and homelessness among international students. According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the cost of essential items has increased, including an eight percent increase in food and non-alcoholic beverages, a 25 percent increase in travel and accommodation costs, a 15.5 percent increase in electricity costs, and a 6.7 percent increase in medical services. According to studies of the rental market, international students face additional housing difficulties due to their inexperience with renting in Australia, language barriers, unfamiliarity with the local area, and lack of connections, which exacerbates their housing difficulties.
An anonymous letter from third-year engineering students at the University of Canterbury stated that 80 percent of their group failed a competency test during final exams. The institution confirmed that the real failure rate was 59 percent. Conan Fee, acting executive dean of engineering, defended the exam, saying it was intended to be difficult and essential for guaranteeing the dependability of the infrastructure. However, an internal investigation found that the test was unfair and in violation of university regulations. Following the filing of two formal complaints, the institution issued an apology, blaming the occurrence on the timing, difficulty, and relevance of the test as well as staff misbehavior.
The depreciation of the Malaysian ringgit is prompting some international students studying in the United States to seek permission to work off-campus to supplement their finances. The US Citizenship and Immigration Service allows students to apply for off-campus work due to “severe economic hardship based on unforeseen circumstances,” which includes substantial fluctuations in currency value. Students can work up to 20 hours per week during the academic session and full-time during breaks. Malaysian parents are feeling the financial strain caused by the weak ringgit, but hope their children will persevere and graduate successfully. The currency depreciation has also impacted outbound tourism with travel agencies experiencing a significant decrease in business and focusing on promoting domestic destinations as a result.
Contrary to the United Kingdom government’s recent decision to forbid students from Nigeria and other nations from bringing their families to the UK, the Canadian government has adopted a new policy to speed up the processing of family reunification applications. Sean Fraser, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, noted that the initiatives strengthen family reunification in Canada and will use cutting-edge technology and analytics to process applications for relatives of citizens and permanent residents within 30 days. In addition, regardless of the application category, Canada will grant dependent spouse applicants and their children open work permits. In contrast, as part of its migration reduction strategy, the UK will only enable a small proportion of overseas students to bring their partners or children beginning in January 2024.
Pablo Carpio, the head of a private English school, spoke about the changing nature of the Gold Coast rental market at a parliamentary hearing examining Australia’s tourist and foreign education sectors. He emphasized instances of outrageous rent costs, congested living quarters, and mistreatment of overseas students. Since 2020, the Gold Coast’s vacancy rates have fallen precipitously, which has caused the median rent for homes to increase sharply. According to Carpio, because of these problems, many students decide to move to different cities. His academy has started teaching pupils about their renting rights in order to remedy the issue.
In Canada, Quebec’s Bill 96 has raised concerns with the addition of new rules that require adult international students in continuing education technical programs to pass French exit exams in order to graduate. This development has created apprehension among colleges and CEGEPs, as it may discourage new students from enrolling. The exams set language proficiency requirements, and students must provide valid test certificates to demonstrate their French language skills. Institutions fear that admitting students and then being unable to provide them with certificates after years of study would be problematic. The situation has left colleges worried about the fall semester and hesitant to accept new student registrations.
Ukrainian students in Canada are facing significant financial challenges as they are required to pay international student fees, despite not being considered refugees. The lack of support for Ukrainian students pursuing higher education has been criticized, with calls for provincial governments and institutions to provide more assistance. Carleton University stated that it offers support on a case-by-case basis but did not address the possibility of policy changes. Saskatchewan has announced measures to accommodate Ukrainian students as domestic students, but Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities did not provide specific plans to exempt Ukrainian students from international student fees.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for an upgrade of China’s education system to support technological self-reliance and attract more international students. He emphasized strengthening socialist core values in education and ensuring students follow the party’s ideology. Xi also emphasized the development of world-class universities and strategic talent, as well as better coordination between vocational, higher, and continuing education. China aims to enhance its international influence in education, but the number of American students in China has declined due to strained Sino-US relations and travel restrictions.
UMSL is a prestigious research university that not only provides excellent education but also has a significant economic impact on the St. Louis region. The majority of its alumni choose to stay and work in the area, contributing to its development. UMSL is recognized as an important Anchor Institution in north St. Louis County and is actively collaborating with the local chamber of commerce to increase the percentage of adults with bachelor’s degrees in St. Louis. The university’s influence extends globally with its alumni making notable contributions in various fields across different locations worldwide.
UMSL is dedicated to creating transformative change and fostering success for all. In addition to its impressive regional impact, UMSL stands out internationally, ranking in the top 2 percent of business schools worldwide and being recognized as one of the Top 100 universities for reducing inequalities, a distinction held by only 12 universities in the United States.
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MSM Reporter is collated by a globally spread team of MSM and is published every Thursday.