Published on February 26, 2014 | by Callum McCarthy0
NUS: International students are treated like ‘cash cows’
The National Union of Students (NUS) has accused universities of using international students as “cash cows” in a new campaign aimed at preventing unanticipated tuition fee hikes.
The NUS wants David Willetts, minister of State for Universities and Science, to freeze tuition rates for international students while they are studying, to offer them protection from greedier universities.
Up to 175,000 international students in the UK are subjected to fee rises each year, sometimes without any warning or reason given from their institution. This can leave students financially crippled and unable to return home to see their families.
The NUS also says that international students who face unexpected extra costs of over £1,000 a year are three times as likely to consider leaving their course.
Daniel Stevens, NUS international students’ officer, says that fees should be fixed to ensure international students are treated fairly in the UK.
“International students already pay astronomical fees for the privilege of studying here without all these hidden costs,” Stevens said. “They are also an important part of the social, cultural and academic makeup of university life and should not be treated simply as cash cows.”
At least half of all UK universities, including UAL, reserve the right to raise fees for international students during their studies.
But Melissa Chatton, UAL’s international student adviser, defended the university’s policy, stating that UAL doesn’t “price people out of existence.”
“It used to be that we had fixed fees and then that changed,” Chatton said. “Most universities don’t fix their fees – it’s unusual to do that. We were late coming to the change.”
She continued: “Existing students will have an agreed inflation attached to their fees. It goes up by no more than 5 per cent; this year it’s 2.9 per cent. That information is all part of their offer letter and is made clear and available to students.”