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You hear it in the news all the time, the education system is under strain and for many, immigration is taking the blame. Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, under mounting pressure, has announced a review into the “pull factor” of British state schools. Flip the coin and you find hundreds of young people who have grown up here, excelling academically yet facing the prospect of having to leave the country to continue their education. So what is all of the hysteria about? And is it possible to find a balance between offering a quality education system and having a democratic immigration policy?
Recent figures have shown a net migration of 300,000, meaning that there has been that many more people entering the country in the last year, compared to the amount of people leaving. Teachers’ unions have warned that schools are struggling to cope with the influx of new students as a result of immigration. Over 300 languages are currently spoken in our state schools and English is no longer the majority language at one in nine of them. There are parts of London where more than three quarters of pupils speak English as their second language rather than their primary one.
A review is currently being carried out by the Department for Education, investigating the impact of mass migration on state schools. A government spokesperson said “it is right that we look at what role the education system is playing, not just in terms of the impact but also as a factor in attracting people to this country in the first place.” As part of the review the government will examine whether the free education system makes Britain a destination of choice for migrants. It could be the first step toward introducing charges for non-EU children to attend school.
Charges for non-EU nationals to attend university in this country are almost triple that of UK nationals. Many international students have to pay around £26,000 per year, instead of the £9,000 it costs a UK national to attend. This will obviously put many international citizens off coming to the UK, therefore helping the government work towards its target of reducing net migration. However, what many people don’t realise is that it is forcing some of the brightest school leavers in to leaving the country.
In the case of Emmanuel Opoku, he was offered an unconditional place at a prestigious London university to study Chemistry. Unfortunately when he arrived in the country from Ghana as a small boy with his parents, Emmanuel was only granted discretionary leave to remain rather than full citizenship. Despite having lived in the country for almost his whole life, excelling in the free state system, he was told that he would have to pay international fees. He and his parents made it clear that they came to the country for a better life, their decision was not based on capitalising on free schools.
As you can see from the example above, even some of the most intelligent young British people are being prevented from progressing due to immigration complications. The Immigration Advice Service is here to support families who are being faced with uncertain futures due to stringent immigration rules. The immigration solicitors at IAS offer advice, assistance with applications and representation.