An ‘expert’ committee advising the British government on immigration has withdrawn a survey asking students where are from and what they think about international students after cries of “racism”.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which is independent of government, asked students if they were from Britain or overseas, and what impact international students had had on their university experience, ranging from “entirely positive” to “entirely negative” — but academics were outraged the question was being asked at all.
“As if it were not bad enough to ‘other’ international students, the survey is open and public,” wailed Ruth Adams, a senior lecturer in cultural and creative industries at King’s College London, complaining that asking students for their views was “essentially an open invitation for any racist with a beef to vent. Hostile environment indeed.”
“With the best will in the world no expert, no social scientist I know, would ever have approved this,” huffed Northumbria University professor Tanja Bueltmann, who claimed the survey “problematised” international students and would have been shot down by her academic ethics committee.
91% of Academics that said they voted in the referendum voted Remain. Tbh I would have expected it to be higher…https://t.co/Z1xCEnODFJ
— Matt Singh (@MattSingh_) January 26, 2017
Universities UK, which represents Britain’s higher education institutions, had initially helped disseminate the survey, but withdrew it after the outcry.
“Due to legitimate concerns raised about a Migration Advisory Committee survey on international students, we will not be sharing it further,” they announced on social media.
“While it’s important that policy makers hear from students about international students’ positive impact, views must be sought appropriately.”
The MAC soon folded under the pressure, saying survey data would not be used in its reports — but pleading that it had had “the potential to show a very positive view of international students in the UK”.
“The survey was not designed to be discriminatory. Following online commentary it has become apparent to us that we will be unable to use the responses to the survey to draw any conclusions. We have therefore withdrawn the survey,” a spokesman grovelled.
— Jack Montgomery ن (@JackBMontgomery) May 18, 2017
Despite the strident cries of racism, it is widely believed that the MAC’s purpose is to provide the government with the “impartial”, “expert” advice it needs to drop its various pledges to reduce immigration — probably by invoking the supposed dangers of “skills shortages” and “an ageing population”.
Evening Standard editor and former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne revealed that the Tories’ long-standing pledge to reduce immigration “from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands” was an electoral gimmick the party’s leadership never intended to deliver shortly after being forced out of office by the Brexit vote.
“[N]one of [the Cabinet’s] senior members supports the pledge in private and all would be glad to see the back of [it],” he gloated.