95% of them think the UK immigration system needs to change.
A parliamentary report has found that the majority of Chinese students in the UK would choose to study elsewhere if the government does not change its immigration policy.
The All-Party Parliamentary Chinese in Britain Group’s (APPCGB) report presented findings from a survey carried out by the British Chinese Project, taken by international Chinese students in the UK. The report was written by Kelly Liang and edited by AAPCGB Chairman Barry Gardiner MP, Councillor Alex Yip, Frank Leung and Jiaqi Hou.
According to Gardiner, Chinese students make up 30% of the UK’s total international student population – a “significant minority”.
“[International Chinese students] contribute large amounts to the UK economy,” Gardiner says. “It is in the interests of both universities and government for the UK to remain an attractive destination for international students.”
988 international Chinese students from universities across the country were surveyed in the report and were asked questions relating to their university experience.
96% said they wished to see “more well-thought out and culturally sensitive student engagement programmes to help them better adapt to studying and living in the UK”.
Even though 69% of student participants had either been a serious victim of crime or had friends who encountered crime, only 40% of these students reported the crime to the police. Students in Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Birmingham had reported a higher rate of crime.
Almost half of the respondents had been subject to some form of racial discrimination including racial slurs or unfair treatment.
Despite experiencing high levels of discrimination and crime, 79% of those asked said they wished to stay in the UK after graduation. However, visa restrictions result in many being forced to leave the country at the end of their studies.
The survey found that some students were not even allowed to stay long enough to attend their own graduation ceremony.
“We pay a large sum for our tuition but as soon as we finish our studies we are sent back to China as if we are some sort of criminal,” one graduate said. “When I had to leave the UK, my heart was broken and I felt powerless and exploited.”
Shockingly, 90% of students said in the survey that the UK will lose Chinese students to other countries if the government fails to address their needs.
Indeed, immigration restrictions are the predominant reason as to why Chinese students do not stay in the country. 29% cited cultural and language barriers, 23% felt they had better career prospects in China, but 62% cited immigration restrictions.
“It is important to note that the blame for this should not be wholly put on the shoulders of the universities,” Gardiner says. “As an often insular group, under reporting of issues within Chinese international students is very high.”
The report recommends a shift in policies to address these findings, including strengthening investigation procedures “for crimes against Chinese international students”, “improvements in services for visa applicants,” and working together with other institutions.