So the other day I had quite an interesting debate with my fellow medical friends. Mind you this debate involved a mix of international and local medical students. With immigration laws changing and making an international student's life even harder, it leads to the question of how are international students studying at a UK medical school affected? Let me give you a quick overview as to what is the proposed change that COULD affect international medics. The government is planning to scrap the Post Study Work Scheme (Tier 1 visas). This apparently does not affect Foundation Year jobs, but apparently does affect international medics wanting to pursue a specialty in the NHS.
Not sure how true is this but someone please do correct me if this is not correct: all posts for specialties will be first filled by local students. Any postings with room left behind will be then filled with international students. In my eyes that sounds a bit unfair but my local friends have made a valid point that us "internationals" are stealing jobs away from the locals. However, what I do not understand is that it is such a shame that an international student who got an equal education to the local students at a UK university still has to be classified as an international. Obviously a bit biased here, but I would think it would be a lot more fair that when ALL medical students graduate (including internationals), everyone should be placed on an equal playing field. Received the same education, hence, should receive equal opportunity for specialty placements? Either way, quite a few internationals do end up leaving UK and return back home to work, but I feel that those who are left behind should be regarded equally and just as suitable for specialty postings. Again I'm not sure how true this is about locals getting more priority than internationals when competing for specialty posts, but I do get both sides of the story.
Next point which could be a bit controversial. Some locals I have spoken to are quite against universities accepting international students in general! Obviously baffled by this comment I do admit I did take it a bit personal even though I know I should not as it is just a fun debate. Anyways again I see why locals find internationals a bit of a nuisance. However, I feel that international students bring a lot of diversity to the UK. I know recently David Cameron said that "Multiculturism [in the UK] has failed", and with these changing immigration laws, studying in the UK doesn't seem as welcoming for international students as it is quite the challenge to get a job after your studies. I think without international students UK would lose its diversity and possibly higher education being less renowned. A major factor for me to come to the UK was for its renowned education system and that its top notch. Who knows down the line immigration is cut down so much that internationals just don't want to go to the UK as there are no job prospects, I think it could put a bit of a dent in the UK higher education's reputation. As well there was this whole other point about international fees vs. local fees which turned out quite heated but not really worth mentioning on the blog. I guess I may have poked a few too many buttons when I said that I like the system in the US where both local and international students pay the SAME fees. I think again it puts people on a more leveled playing field. Then another debate of being able to afford higher education, etc etc.
Where I stand is in the middle. International students bring a lot to the universities and certainly to the medical schools, however, it does threaten local students as we can take up posts that should be for local students. But I don't think it is fair to make it so difficult for a competent graduate (especially a medical student) to stay in the UK. As well, if international students are placed on a leveled playing field with local students when fighting for posts, I think it would create really good competition. Medical school shouldn't be a cruise along the river. It should be like back in school where you compete and do your absolute best to get into the universities you want to go to and study medicine! I feel that now there is hardly any competition and I think we need just a bit more. Competition can create more competent/excellent doctors as everyone will feel the need to work hard, take on extracurricular activities, etc.
What do you guys think about the changing immigration laws which could possibly put off possibly amazing future medical students? How do you think it will affect the UK/NHS? What is your view on the whole International vs. Local Student? Should there be more competition at medical school? Please post your comments below. :)