This has been a busy week for many in the study travel industry with two large agent conferences, Alphe UK and StudyWorld, taking place back-to-back in London, as well as the annual STM Star Awards. Many of you will find yourselves in some of the pictures taken during these events and also at some of the evening social activities in our Grapevine pictures.
Spending time with like-minded people at events such as these, who each have a common goal of encouraging more people to broaden their horizons by travelling and studying overseas, it is sometimes easy to forget that not everyone feels the same way. Students and staff at London Metropolitan University in the UK have demonstrated outside the Home Office this week over its decision to strip the university of its right to recruit international students and many of their students talk about being made to feel like criminals and illegal immigrants. The university is currently mounting a legal challenge to the decision which may see it being able to continue sponsoring international students until the legal process is concluded. LMU’s Vice Chancellor Malcolm Gillies says, “We fundamentally contest the claim that there is systemic failure here.”
Clearly whatever the outcome of subsequent legal action, the damage to the UK’s reputation as a study destination has already been done and it is ironic that this situation has occurred as London hosts thousands of overseas delegates intent on furthering study abroad opportunities throughout the world. Couple that with the UK visa changes that have caused problems for many language students in recent years and it is clear that the UK is going to have to work hard to show that its doors are open to international students in the future.