The British public do not see international students studying in the UK as “immigrants”, and do not want the number coming here reduced, even if this would make it harder to reduce overall immigration numbers, according to new research by Universities UK and British Future, writes Joe Cryer.
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"I actually desperately wish that central government had a better understanding of the need for, at a local level, for there to be better provisions for young people out of school, said one speaker at our recent debate in Eltham.
Long-time teacher of English to new arrivals in this country Jo Thorp finds the rewards are great for both students and society, but following funding cuts, there are massive waiting lists for most courses.
There’s a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to British identity. Almost everyone I know has a separate ethnic identity which means we often don’t think about what it is to be British, or it can mean that we tend to appreciate it less. I went to Ethiopia in 2010 and personally didn’t enjoy myself. I was so used to being wrapped up in this blanket of multiculturalism that I didn’t realise being in a whole city full of people who looked similar to me would feel so unsettling. However what was even more surprising was that people were judgemental when I spoke in English and some even laughed. Immediately I was defensive of being British, which was unusual as I was used to complaining daily about almost everything in Britain. At the end of the trip I was glad my parents decided to raise me in London. There are a lot of things we can be grateful for: the underground or the education system, for example. There aren’t many people in the world who can say they can get miles around a city in less than an hour.
"When you go into school, or into college, you meet people from everywhere - from America, from Poland, everywhere - in one day", says one Hackney Community College student at a British Future debate. British Future went to Hackney to talk to students about whether they defined themselves as British, English or something else. The students' debate, chaired by Anthony Painter, also focused on integration - in terms of the diversity they could see around them in London, and how they thought that was mirrored in the rest of the country.
The challenges of unemployment and rising living costs can be particularly damaging to young people. Providing them with support is essential and effective, argues Sarah Webster. At City Gateway, I work with some of the toughest young people from the seemingly hopeless estates in Tower Hamlets. Each day we deal with cases of physical or sexual abuse, homelessness, illness and bereavements as well as concerning CRB checks. They have been written off by their teachers and would be considered unemployable (usually having less than 5 GCSEs). Yet when given education, support and encouragement - with the end goal being a link with job opportunities in city firms through our apprenticeship programme - they are transformed.