If the new Immigration Bill gets passed, international students will face fees from £200 to £4,000 in order to use NHS services. The Immigration Bill, proposed in October 2013, is due to have its report stage and third reading on January 30th 2014.
In a recent piece written about the Immigration Bill, LUSU President Joel Pullan expressed concern that it should affect the amount of students studying in the UK negatively. He believes people will be dissuaded from coming if they have to pay more money to cover their “free health care”.
Michal Szulik, International Officer for Pendle College, took a strong position on the subject. In an interview for SCAN, he reasoned his arguments against the NHS fees in relation to the current higher fees paid for education by international students: ‘International students already have to pay £4000 more than [home students] for university. The government is already making a profit from the international students, so they can’t really justify these fees’.
Some of the international students’ fees are already as high as £15,850 per year. If the bill goes through they would be charged the NHS fees on top of that amount. Szulik is especially concerned about the repercussions it may have for post-graduate students who have families.
Supporters of the Immigration Bill have put forward the argument that international students do not contribute to the NHS, and therefore should not have free access to it. In the introduction to the official overview of the Bill, the Immigration Minister Mark Harper MP said: “The Immigration Bill will stop migrants abusing public services to which they are not entitled, reduce the pull factors which draw illegal immigrants to the UK and make it easier to remove people who should not be here.”
Szulik denies that this is the case for international students; “They [international students] already contribute about seven billion paying for universities, bringing their families here and working for England”. When asked about the University’s stance on the Immigration Bill, Szulik said, ‘The University is trying to persuade the local MPs to go against this. There is a petition for people to sign. It is important to let people know. Whether they agree or not, their opinion should be well known’.
If you would like to sign the petition against additional NHS fees for international students more information can be found at: www.lusu.co.uk/3861/our-opposition-to-the-immigration-bill-a-meeting-with-the-immigration-minister/