A Manchester international student has revealed he may have to return home as communities face struggles with transitioning to life in the UK.
Alan Saji (24) is a post graduate student of Indian descent studying at Salford University. His comments have come against the backdrop of the International Day of Education celebrated on January 24th. As the world marks the occasion, Alan shares his struggles.
“Back in India, I thought it would be easy to get a job,” he said. “When I came here after getting my national insurance number I initially found a job in a warehouse carrying heavy metals but as I am short and skinny I couldn’t carry the weight and I quit. Now after three months I am regretting as I have been unable to find work.”
Manchester is a cultural hub for international students all over the world who seek higher education. With three universities and an estimated 18,000 international students across a range of graduate and post graduate courses, students like Saji have found it increasingly difficult to adapt. These issues are endemic among migrants but for students it becomes exacerbated by the realities of balancing schoolwork and settlement.
The psychological and physical strain has caused students like Saji to sometimes consider returning to their countries of origin.
He added: “I received so many calls but each time I took the call expecting it to be a job but they hang up each time they learn that I am a student…So I asked if it was possible to get access to a cheap flight that could take me back home.”
Alan’s struggles are a representation of the endemic issues that international students in Manchester (and other parts of the UK) face as they struggle to balance work and study life.
Deborah Olusola, the head of the Nigerian International Students Manchester society has shed light on another major issue faced by students coming in from abroad.
Students who come in have had to negotiate the unavailability of affordable housing and this is more difficult for students who have moved in with members of their family as dependents.
She said: “While there are school accommodations, they are not available for those who have moved with family. The letting agents are asking for guarantors and in most cases, they ask for two. And in addition to guarantors, they would also ask for three to six months’ rent deposit paid upfront.”
As the UN celebrates International Education Day, Sarah John the chairperson of the Indian Students Association has spoken about some of the ways the local government could alleviate the pressure on students. She said: “It would help if we could get discounts in our bills as well as bursaries and scholarships for students who are struggling to adapt.”
For students like Saji, the reality is grim and the repercussions imminent. This is because he has had to rely on money sent from India from relatives and family for his welfare and this has been difficult too because of high costs of exchange rates.
Universities and other organisations have in the past helped international students adapt to the transition to Manchester. With conditions getting more difficult by the day, it is important for these efforts to be intensified to enable the ever-growing international student community enjoy the greater Manchester dream.