We at the National Union of Students are aware of the faults in the recent Migration Advisory Committee survey of students that resulted in it being halted (“Withdrawal of ‘flawed’ international student survey welcomed”, www.timeshighereducation.com, 18 May). While the MAC certainly must seek to gain a better understanding of the relationship between home and international students, it must do so in a sound and appropriate way.
Unfortunately, the survey was inherently flawed and included many of the tropes characteristic of the government’s hostile attitude towards immigrants. The questions suppose an “us” and “them” between UK and international students, with one question even asking students to make a judgement, seemingly based on appearance, about how many international students are in their class. This is not only shockingly insensitive, but it does not reflect the reality of our diverse yet cohesive university communities.
The survey was also open to abuse. There was no verification process for respondents, who were thus able to complete the survey more than once, if they wished. The survey results were intended to inform future policy that could affect the lives of thousands of students. That this could be based on such shoddy research should be a cause for scandal.
We welcome the speedy removal of the survey by the Home Office, and request that all data collected so far be discarded immediately.
NUS International Students’ Officer