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International Edinburgh University students forced to leave UK because of marking boycott

‘I’m unable to sleep every night worrying that my life would be ruined and I would never get my four-year degree’


International students at Edinburgh University, who don’t yet have their results due to the ongoing marking boycott, have been told they will need to “return home” before they can begin postgraduate courses in September.

The university emailed students this week telling them if “your award decisions has been deferred due to missing or delayed results you will be required to return to your home country and obtain another student visa from outside the UK”, as the Visa and Immigration service has not put measures in place to help students affected by the boycott.

Despite “graduation ceremonies” currently taking place, approximately 2,000 Edinburgh University students have been left unable to graduate with any degree this summer as universities refuse to negotiate with the UCU.

This comes after hundreds of students, their families and staff took to Bristo Square to protest the University’s lack of negotiation amid the boycott, with many feeling angry and frustrated at the lack of support available to students throughout.

One of the students affected by this is Will Scheffler, a final year student studying international relations with quantitative methods at the university. He told The Tab Edinburgh that whilst he has an offer for a Master’s degree at LSE, he has been told he will have to return home before he starts his degree.

He said: “It is frustrating that the university has published contradictory information (previously said UKIV put in safeguards for situations like this), so I don’t know if the government and university leadership just haven’t been talking or there had been a massive miscommunication in the past.

“I’m hoping that university leadership and government ministers can sort this out urgently. It seems as though both have utterly failed students here.”

— Will Scheffler (@will_scheffler_) July 11, 2023

Another international relations student from China, who would prefer to remain anonymous, has told The Tab Edinburgh how she and her friends have been deeply affected by the MAB and the university’s management of the dispute.

Whilst the student has received multiple conditional offers for master’s programmes, however, due to a lack of degree classification and final year marks, universities are unable to give her firm offers, which has meant her being unable to extend her visa.

She said that whilst in normal circumstances, the £700 visa extension would be an option, due to the marking boycott the only option for her is to return home, costing her thousands of pounds. Returning home also creates further issues, as she has missed the job application window for most internships relevant to her field, and without a graduate certificate is left unable to find a job.

Speaking to her fellow course mates, she said they’ve had job offers withdrawn, are unable to obtain masters places, and are overall faced with an anxious and precarious situation over the next few months. She said: “I’m unable to sleep every night worrying that my life would be ruined and I would never get my four-year degree”.

However, Edinburgh University’s guidance has been queried by staff at other universities, as Dr Katherine Schofield from Kings College London took to Twitter to explain that the UK Visa and Immigration service has introduced concessions for students impacted by the marking boycott, contradicting the email sent out by Edinburgh University.

A spokesperson for the university said: “The marking and assessment boycott is a sector-wide issue and we recognise that many students across the UK are experiencing delays in receiving their final degree results. We are profoundly sorry that we have not been able to shield our students from the impact of this UK-wide dispute.