Study Abroad: The National Union of Students has opposed the UK visa rules that cap permitted work hours for international students at 20 per week.
Pritha Roy Choudhury | November 25, 2023 | 06:11 PM IST
NEW DELHI: The National Union of Students (NUS) in the United Kingdom launched a campaign on November 24 demanding increased working hours for international students to make their stay in the country affordable. Till now, the UK has restricted the working hours for international students on Tier 4 UK visas to 20 hours per week, a situation that adversely affects 70% members of this group.
The NUS campaign, Beyond Borders: Equality at Work for International Students, calls on the UK government to make it easier for international students to work while they study. The 20-hour work limit applies only to international students.
“According to the Natwest Student Living Index 2022, average monthly living cost for students in the UK is £950. Many international students, therefore, often cannot meet the costs of surviving when they cannot legally work more than 20 hours a week. This restriction also has the effect of limiting the kinds of work many international students are able to get to often exploitative, zero-hour, minimum-wage roles,” said the NUS’ note on the campaign.
As per a survey conducted by the NUS UK, the 20-hour working limit affected 70% of international students’ ability to find suitable work. The limitation on working hours led to students not being able to make ends meet and lead a decent life, said the note.
As per the home office UK, 1,42,848 Indian students were granted UK student visas in 2023, making it one of the largest contingent of international students there.
Earlier this year, Muhammud Rauf Waris, a Pakistani national studying in the University of Sterling in Scotland was arrested and held in an immigration removal centre for seven weeks for allegedly working for more than 20 hours a week, the fenews.co.uk reported.
Waris was set free when the home office of the UK intervened after an open letter calling for his release was signed by 1,000 people, The National reported.
The student body also highlighted the unequal treatment of home and international students in their campaign saying this is impacting the physical and mental health of international students.
The NUS has decided to address the situation in two phases. In the first phase, the students’ body will urge the UK government to bring the working hours of international students on par with that of home students. This will give equal opportunity to students to find work of their choice, it added.
A 20-hours-a-week job is considered a part-time one by many employers and hence, international students lose out on the opportunity to get jobs matching their potential or study field.
In the second phase, the NUS will look into grants and hardship funds for all students, including international students, which will help them study in the country. This will also mean that if there is adequate funds, they need not work for more than 20 hours.
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