UK Home Office Scraps Survey on Foreign Students Over Ethics Concerns
The Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) survey, which informs the UK Home Office policy, asked students about their views on international classmates in the survey.
An advisory committee of the UK Home Office has scrapped a survey that sought to evaluate the effect of international students after academicians called it unethical.
The Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) survey, which informs the UK Home Office policy, asked students about their views on international classmates in the survey, BBC reported. It announced on May 17 that the survey’s responses will not be used.
The survey remained incomplete as concerns were raised about it posing questions that were seemingly loaded. Universities UK announced on May 17 that it will not share the survey, and that the views should be sought from students in an appropriate manner.
Due to legitimate concerns raised about a Migration Advisory Committee survey on international students, we will not be sharing it further. While it's important that policy makers hear from students about international students' positive impact, views must be sought appropriately
— Universities UK (@UniversitiesUK) May 17, 2018
A spokesman from MAC clarified that the survey was not designed to be discriminatory, and that it was simply an attempt to ask students for their experiences and had the potential to show a very positive view of international students in the United Kingdom. The agency confirmed that it was being withdrawn. “Following online commentary it has become apparent to us that we will be unable to use the responses to the survey,” the spokesman was quoted as saying by the publication.
Prof Tanja Bueltmann, a professor of migration history at Northumbria University, said that the survey was absolutely invalid and should not be used as a base to inform policy.
“Initially, I thought it must be some sort of fake thing, because of the nature of the questions. The survey unquestionably contains loaded or leading questions that force respondents to problematize international students in a way that they may never have naturally done,” Bueltmann added. “If I had done this as a research project, I’d be in trouble with my ethics committee now,” Bueltmann told the BBC.
The survey asked students to evaluate whether the effect of international students on their course was negative, positive or neutral. It also included other questions, such as whether students lived with any international students or studied with any on their course. It was to be closed at the end of May and was posted by universities, encouraging students to fill it up.
The survey was part of work commissioned by former UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd when the government faced pressures to remove international students from net migration target.
Matthias Eberl, engagement lead at Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute, called the results of the survey meaningless on Twitter.
A student survey that's openly accessible to anyone and can be filled in multiple times? Whatever the results from this survey, they are utterly meaningless.@1daywithoutus @The3Million @ukhomeoffice @nusuk @weareintl #WeAreInternational
— Matthias Eberl 🇪🇺 (@eberlmat) May 16, 2018