migrantvoice
Speaking for Ourselves

Editorial: Justice put on hold

Editorial: Justice put on hold

MV

 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - Editorial: Justice put on hold

Amidst the current chaos of UK politics, tens of thousands of international students watch in despair as their futures are suspended once again. They are amongst many groups in the UK who are losing out on their fight for justice due to the parliamentary paralysis. Their voices are not being heard, their problems are not being addressed – and this must change.

In 2014, nearly 60,000 international students were flung into limbo by the government amid a flurry of unfounded allegations and have been battling for more than five years to restart their lives.

Accused of cheating on an English test, their visas were revoked and they were told to leave the country. Many were innocent and the minimal evidence against them has been exposed as wholly unreliable, yet the Home Office continues to fight them in court, appealing almost every ruling in the students’ favour.

Ignored for years, the students finally found themselves at the top of the Home Office agenda earlier this year after fierce campaigning by the students themselves alongside Migrant Voice and MPs led by Stephen Timms.

Reports by the National Audit Office and the All-Party Parliamentary Group representing the students have exposed the true extent of the government’s mistakes (wilful or otherwise) on this matter, and a wave of media interest handed the students a metaphorical megaphone and a chance to finally be heard.

And the pressure paid off – in a tumultuous week at the end of July, as one government traded places with another, the Home Office shifted its position significantly (and for the first time since 2014), finally acknowledging that the government has “a duty” to do more to help those students wrongly accused, pledging no further action against students who never used a TOEIC certificate in a visa application, and suggesting possible concessions for students with children and other strong family ties to the UK.

Things were busy behind the scenes too, where we understand government officials were designing a system that would allow students to submit their cases to be reassessed by the Home Office.

The resolution we all longed for had not yet come, but it was a period of hope after five years of despair. But that hope is now fading, as the change of government and current political turmoil has left urgent matters of injustice, such as the wrongful allegations against these students, neglected.

Once again, they face the misery of watching from the sidelines as yet another university year begins without them. Even as the Government trumpets its “global outlook” with the very welcome return of the post-study work visa for international students, another group of students continues to suffer, largely unheard.

When politicians and journalists, those with the greatest power to make change happen in this country, become consumed by a single issue – however important that issue may be – other problems do not simply hover in a state of limbo. Often, they deepen. So it is for the students – with every passing day, their situation becomes more precarious, more unbearable.

We therefore call on policymakers and on those in the media with the power to make voices heard, to make an extra effort at this time to hear those who feel they are shouting into a void, to continue to address those vital issues in danger of being neglected, and to find just resolutions that will ensure everyone in this country can live dignified and hopeful lives.

In the case of the international students living in limbo, we call on the Government to urgently finalise and implement its resolution, listening to the students affected and to the recommendations of those campaigning alongside them in order to end their misery once and for all.

 

TOP IMAGE: In June 2019, some of the international students wrongly accused in 2014 delivered a letter to the former Home Secretary Sajid Javid on behalf of more than 100 students.