Back in November, before this team’s first edition of Nouse, my able Deputy and I trekked down to Halifax in search of international students in the name of research. We invited ourselves into various houses and thrust a dictaphone into the faces of a few unsuspecting students to ask what their plans were for the Christmas holidays. A couple revealed plans to jet off to some exotic locations, but the majority admitted they were staying behind in York with little planned. This was quite eye-opening, and it was a shock to realise that there are very few provisions in place for international students, who almost certainly have a different experience to those who have grown up in Britain throughout their life.
So I welcome the proposal that that an International Students Committee be added to the Union Council, alongside the new part-time International Students Officer role.
It is uncomfortably easy to generalise when talking about international students, and people frequently stereoptype those from abroad with little care or consideration. It is this kind of stereotyping that YUSU should be aiming to break down.
University is supposed to be about getting to know people from all walks of life
If there is an officer in place to deal with issues affecting international students, hopefully any hint of segregation will be lessened. With proper representation, YUSU will be encouraged to make further provisions for international students, improving involvement within the University community.
When freshers discover they are to live with international students, they should not act with hesitance, as I fear currently happens. University is supposed to be about getting to know people from all walks of life and all kinds of places. The differences between us all should be celebrated.
Those who conclude that this move has been made due the fees paid by international students are certainly unfair. Yes, they pay more money than home students, and the costs can rise to £36,000 (which is, quite frankly, staggering). But the fact that they contribute more money to the University’s ever-increasing black hole of funds should not be a reason for their increased representation within YUSU. All students should be entitled to the same amount of representation, regardless of the fees they contribute. It can be difficult for international students; they may have a completely different set of worries to home students. It seems they can sometimes just be swept under the carpet as a problem that is too difficult to deal with.
The International Students Office estimates over 20 per cent of the University population fall under their remit. With this in mind, it seems strange that such a move hasn’t been made before.