Controversial international students survey withdrawn

A controversial survey regarding international students has been withdrawn following complaints and allegations of misuse.

A Home Office Sponsored survey, conducted by the Migration Advisory Council, asked students how many of their friends at university were from overseas. The survey asked students to rate their interactions with international or UK students on a scale running from “wholly negative” to “wholly positive”.

Another question inquired how readily respondents mixed with students of different nationalities, including whether they socialised or shared accommodation with UK or non-UK students, and in what proportions.

However, the survey drew criticism almost immediately. Firstly, there were allegations that the survey was vulnerable to manipulation, with any internet user able to access the survey and respond multiple times.

It also drew criticism from students and academics for being unethical, with some academics claiming that it would not have passed scrutiny by a university ethics committee.

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.”

A MAC spokesperson said: “The Migration Advisory Committee remains clear that the survey was not designed to be discriminatory and was simply an attempt to ask students for their experiences as part of the MAC’s commission to assess the impact of international students in the UK. “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 taken the decision to withdraw the survey.” Article published 25th May 2018