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Frustration over introduction of new healthcare costs for non-EU students

Posted on April 27, 2015
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Non-EU students have expressed their frustration after being informed that they now have to pay a new Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) when renewing or applying for a Tier 4 student visa.

The cost, which was introduced on 6 April, will be calculated using the duration of the student’s course and the period of leave given after the course ends.

Although students from Australia and New Zealand are exempt from paying the IHS, all other non-EU students will now have to pay £150 per year plus an additional £75 for leave lasting six months or less.

Nur Hisyam, a second-year Philosophy student, said: “[Although] I think the fee is warranted even for the duration of a year, perhaps they should stagger the cost of fees so that it would match the length of a person’s stay.”

An email sent to students in January 2014 appealed for examples of how they had benefited from the current legislation in order to present a case to the House of Lords in favour of keeping the existing laws. However, the IHS was introduced “despite concerns raised by the Lords”.

One student, who wished to remain anonymous, agreed that some monetary distinction was needed between local and non-EU students, but felt that the cost was unjustified.

They said: “How many times would a person need to go the doctors to ever make [the cost] worth [it]? It may be [worth it] to cover hospitalization fees or serious illnesses, but no one is planning to break something every year. It just encourages more people to go to the doctors for the smallest cough or sniffle.”

Choon How, a second-year English student, suggested that “health services for international students should be charged on a per-use basis, like most other countries”.

He added: “If you tax people to enter, they simply won’t come, and then good luck trying to persuade your local students that tuition fees have to rise because international students are no longer coming.”

However, he said that he thought that the surcharge would ultimately be unlikely to dissuade international students if they “are willing to fork out so much money to study here in the first place”.

Commenting on the introduction of the IHS, Roberto Avelar, International Officer, issued a reminder that the University provides financial support for international students.

Avelar said he hoped that “this won’t affect people too negatively”.

However, he admitted to being frustrated by the IHS on a personal level, telling Nouse: “It’s obviously a complicated issue … but it is frustrating that my uni fees are already almost twice as high as [local] students’ fees and I now have to pay a yearly £150 fee for health care too.

“It is frustrating given the significant contributions that international students already offer through elevated fees.”

He added: “Taking approaches like these only works to disincentivise future students from applying as it’s already expensive enough.”

David Duncan, University Registrar and Secretary, said: “As an institution, we call on all political parties to remove students from immigration targets, and to allow international students post study work visas. We also believe that international students should have unfettered access to the NHS while studying at York, and should not face excessive monitoring requirements.”

Duncan added: “As a University, we will continue to work with YUSU and the GSA to make it as easy as possible for international students to settle in and be active members of the community.”

For more news and updates, assistance with your visa needs or for a Free Assessment of your profile for Immigration or Work Visa’s just visit www.y-axis.com

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