For students’ and workers’ unity against cuts and racism

Tamil Solidarity activists marching for refugees' rights, 17.9.16, photo Senan

Tamil Solidarity activists marching for refugees’ rights, 17.9.16, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Rebecca Gardner, Southampton Socialist Party

One of Theresa May’s racist immigration myths has been exposed.

The Office for National Statistics has revealed that in 2016 only 4,600 international students failed to leave when their study visas expired. This figure is way off its earlier claims of up to 100,000 a year.

As home secretary, May repeatedly placed blame on students from outside the EU for taking jobs and burdening services. She also blamed higher education providers, claiming they were an easy route to Britain for economic migrants.

The real burden on jobs and services is the super-rich capitalist class and its Tory and Blairite representatives. They are the ones destroying jobs and slashing budgets.

But May needed scapegoats. She imposed harsh visa restrictions which came into force last year, and made it even more difficult for international students to work in Britain after graduating.

Non-EU students pay significantly higher fees – around £19,000 a year – and are not eligible for student loans. They are also excluded from government-funded disability and hardship money given to universities to support more vulnerable students.

Even at the time, then-chancellor George Osborne wanted international students removed from official migration statistics because of the income from their extortionate fees.

Rather than address the real issues that people face – housing, healthcare, jobs, pay, education – the Tories have chosen to victimise migrants. Although it is true that greedy bosses exploit migrant labour to drive down wages and maximise profits, racist division among workers will not prevent that.

The Socialist Party stands for solidarity between students and workers of all national and racial backgrounds. Only by uniting and fighting together – in trade unions and political struggle – can we end austerity, racism and the rule of the capitalists who demand it.