According to the NUS, up to 175,000 international students a year find that their fees are increased by thousands of pounds a year, often without notice, reason or support.
Half of universities do not provide any guarantee of what the fee will be for each year of study, the NUS said its research had revealed – and so some overseas students find themselves unable to continue because of rising costs.
As a consequence, some international students are forced to seek additional part-time employment, supplementary loans, or drastically reduce expenditure in order to foot the bill, the NUS said. Others are unable to travel home to see their families, or afford course resources.
Daniel Stevens, NUS international students’ officer, said the campaign had one simple goal: to abolish in-course fee increases.
“We want a fixed fee guarantee for all international students,” he continued. “The unpredictable increase in fees is totally unfair and exploits this group of students. Worse still, they put the academic success of many international students at risk each year because students may enter financial difficulty and drop out.
“International students already pay astronomical fees for the privilege of studying here without all these hidden costs. They are also an important part of the social, cultural and academic make-up of university life and should not be treated simply as cash cows.”
The campaign is calling on vice chancellors and principals of UK institutions to agree to guarantee a fixed fee for international students, and more than 180 students’ union officers have signed an open letter to university leaders asking them to make the change.
An online petition has also been set up, which has already attracted more than 100 signatories.