International Students: watered down modern day slave trade?

In regards to international students coming from third world countries, the usually high disparity of the originating country’s currency puts most at a disadvantage. Although most people legitimately seek to enhance their knowledge and earn credentials, some people abuse the systems set in place in the destination country.

Most of the defaulters are enrolled in English courses. What irks me is the hoops people have to jump through to get an education in a foreign country. The reasons could be many, lack of quality or acceptance in their home country or ridiculous standards set to get a proper education or just to get out and see the world. Whatever it may be, they’ve decided.

Now what people shouldn’t confuse education, especially international education with is a noble system to enlighten future minds, to inspire and create talent to bring the future world better hope and prospects than the one we live in. No, as with all modern facilities, it is yet another monetary fueled one. [ 1 | 2 ] Even though rose tinted perceptions about the situation still exist, [ 1 ] fact of the matter is that removed from the ordinary persons views and beliefs in regards to immigration, it is usually set in stone when it comes to immigrant status seekers and temporary residents – We love the money your fueling into our economy and the work you do, but once you run dry or run over our artificial limits, you are no longer welcome here.

The governments that oversee the institutions in their respective countries set the immigration policies which in turn effect the students coming in. It is just another agenda on the list, if it affects the rights and health of the individuals involved, that’s just tough. What matters to the government is that this industry brings in sustainable revenue each year while filtering out unwanted elements or those whose allotted money draining time has been expended and thus shall be expelled.

For e.g., in a country like Ireland, where a person may have come for a 3-4 year degree program, on entry into the country, the person is subjected to a visa renewal process. WTF? I just thought I entered the country with a visa that was approved a month ago. On a side note: getting that visa in the first place took a mountain of paper and nearly a year of running around. Being of Indian origin, the governmental agents aren’t too helpful with situations, worse still is the fact that bar the red tape, official duties are still conducted in the native language. So after the stress of all this you are faced with another one? In this case you are supposed to show up to the GNIB office and wait in line from the early early hours of the morning (anywhere from 3-6 am), get a ticket, then wait around till 9 am, when the offices start working. If you were lucky enough to get an early ticket you would be called between 9-11 am, otherwise the wait continues. When you are called, you show all the required paperwork and have to have at least at € 1000 in your bank account. Hmm, I came here at the end of September, had around € 1,200 or so. Between that and the time I went to the GNIB, I had to run around trying to find an accommodation, pay the deposit and first month’s rent (€ 700) and that’s actually cheap, although the room was in Tallaght. I also paid for a Luas pass € 70-80 I think, and other necessities of life [ 1 ] and came down to € 200 or so. Now that is insufficient amount to the GNIB officer, why because it’s not enough to support yourself in Ireland for 2-3 weeks now is it? Of course not, it doesn’t matter to the officer that you’ll be sent money later that month or so. It has to be right there when your getting your visa renewed. So regardless of the fact you did have money and you will be getting money or that you’ve paid around € 7900 for your college fees, you could be denied a visa to stay in Ireland or maybe given a temp one lasting 3 months instead of the year. Each visa application costs € 150 mind you (€ 100 when I first arrived).

In order to do this process you have to take time off from college or work, if you’ve been there longer and actually have a part-time job. That beats the purpose of having to attend all your classes now doesn’t it? It’s inconsiderate, inhumane and primitive if you ask me.

This has to be repeated year after year. This is not only stressful but arduous. If you were struggling to make ends meet (Ireland is one of the most expensive countries in the EU [ 1 | 2 ] ) and pay for your upcoming college year I can assure you it’s not the best situation to be in. For a 3-4 year course you are subjected to repeat harassment and hardships. Owing to visa defaulters and other miscreants, legitimate students who just want to get a degree, or in my case a degree and a masters, have to deal with insurmountable lengths to stay in Ireland just to finish what they’ve started.

Having been to other countries to study, the usual rigor is you apply for a visa before departure, they either approve or reject it, and if it’s approved you travel to the country, set up yourself and start studying.

When it comes to dual standards this one takes the cake, after jumping through unfair, inhumane boundaries to bar you from going into another country, you are faced with further harassment and struggle. When trying to get a college education it is hard enough to focus and study without these issues. What is being displayed is a clear case of greed, selfishness and monetary focus while disregarding basic human rights. While coming from a third world country means you are usually devoid of human rights to start with, doesn’t mean it gives other supposedly “developed” nations the right to abuse you mentally and financially. These developed countries require international students as one area of revenue, as an industry is built around it and would face major losses. There is no win-win situation, people are affected, their mental health, finances and at times their legal status. People are forced into tactics to ensure they can either fulfill their goals or improve their lives, in the process they resort to cross the line and suddenly their lives are altered forever.

While international students are mostly sought for financial gain, immigration systems are in place so that a few worthy candidates may pass through and actually secure a permanent status in the foreign country. This ensures that the society isn’t overwhelmed with an influx of immigrants. This in effect causes a brain drain on the originating country.

According to UK immigration minister Damian Green as quoted on the, “What I’m doing with an urgent review of the whole student visa system is to make sure that we can continue to attract the brightest and best to this country but also to stop that route being used as a scam.” Scam or not, the bottom line is if you have enough money to fund our economy and if you can further aid the economy in terms of mental output, welcome aboard. If not just pay us the money and leave.

Countries like Ireland, where under graduate education is virtually free, require international student funding (Yes it’s a sweeping statement]. And in a time of looming recession and budgetary cuts, “universities [are] increasingly  seeing them[international students] as a lucrative source of income at a time of cuts to higher education budgets.” [ 1 ]

Ideally an international agreement must be made to prevent this self-induced human trafficking under the guise of education. It would be more appropriate to relabel it as a entirely commercial process as that is what it is precisely. Developed nations are not sorely in need of revenue from international students to survive, so gluttony maybe? Create systems where peoples’ lives are not abused for want of something better. Raise the tuition fees so that only the uber wealthy can afford to send their children or themselves to these over privileged states. It might be better that the countless masses stay in their place of origin going nowhere than aspiring to foolish hopes and dreams. Let the gifted minds stay in their home abode and either help their respective countries develop or maybe rot away owing to the fact that their countries are ill equipped or their talents will go unrecognized. Let’s all see how things will be when there are no more foreign workers or students to complain about.

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