Should Manx students pay international tuition fees?
If the Isle of Man is a Crown Dependency and we are holders of British passports, even classified as having British citizenship under ‘The British Nationality Act 1981’ and we are recognised under international law not as a sovereign state but as “territories for which the United Kingdom is responsible” (Ministry of Justice, n.d.) then surely our students would be classified as British for the sake of university placements.
Take Rachel Jarvis for example. Rachel has been forced to raise a petition to the Isle of Man Government for the fair treatment of Manx students and for inconsistencies in their treatment to be improved. See https://www.change.org/p/isle-of-man-government-improve-tuition-fee-inconsistencies-for-isle-of-man-students and sign if you agree.
Rachel fell one grade short of what she required to get into Veterinary School and so she took an alternative route, one that required her to undertake two undergraduate degrees and unbeknownst to her would result in her being charged fees for her second degree at international student rates. She will be charged international rates because she lives on the Isle of Man. Instead of being charged £9,000 per annum, she’ll be charged anything between £19,000 and £30,000 per year.
Now, I can understand that IOM government having a policy whereby they won’t pay for a persons’ second degree but in this case, the student made an error, sans help from the Department of Education in the first place and she fully intends to return to the Isle of Man when she qualifies. If only 15% of our students are returning each year and the DED are so desperate to bring students home to take up newly created jobs (they say that the great majority don’t return; see section 2 of the DED ‘Proposals to Accelerate Economic Growth’ document https://www.gov.im/lib/docs/ded/consultations/PAEG/proposalstoaccelerateeconomicgro.pdf) and the Chief Minister recognises that there are “relatively low return rates of graduates” (see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/we-could-refund-tuition-fees-to-attract-graduates-1-8071694) then surely the government could create an exceptions clause for students that are returning to take up jobs that are difficult to fill locally. Rachel will return to the Island as a qualified vet and she is essentially home grown talent; a graduate willing to return to take up a position on an island that has farming at its heart.
Getting back to the inconsistencies part of this blog, I’d ask you to tell me how Rachel can be considered an international student when:
- She can and did vote in BREXIT
- She can and did vote for the Liverpool Mayor
- She has a Manx passport that is a common format passport (recognised as British)
- The British Nationality Act 1981 confers British Citizenship on all those with close connections with the UK, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man
- The Isle of Man comprises part of a ‘Common Travel Area ‘ with the UK, Jersey, Guernsey and the Republic of Ireland (the IOM forms part of the borders of the British Isles)
- Under Protocol 3, the ‘Isle of Man Relationship with the European Union’ Manx citizens are recognised as British for the purposes of free movement within the EU
- Her first degree was recognised under British citizen rules as she was charged accordingly.
Taking the last point on board, why is a first undergraduate degree charged on the basis of Manx citizens being recognised as British yet a second degree can be charged under international student rules? Has the Isle of Man government negotiated for Manx students to be recognised as British only for a first undergraduate degree and forgotten to ensure this rule applies to all degrees undertaken? Questions need to be asked of the Department of Education and Children and the Manx government as a whole. Why are we always coming up against this barrier where we are classified as one nationality one minute and another nationality the next? Why are the waters so muddy?
So, should Manx students pay international tuition fees? If we were a truly independent nation, a sovereign nation and not a Crown Dependency with so many links to the UK then yes, but as you can see from the bulleted list above, our students are getting a raw deal from universities if those students take on a second undergraduate degree (which they would happily pay for if it was under British rules) because although we are intrinsically linked to the UK, the universities are ignoring this when it suits them. Our government is letting our students down and is stifling endeavour by refusing to tackle this issue.
I have heard about healthcare undergraduates being funded because they are returning to fill a needs area. I applaud the government for this but why can’t Rachel get funding and why can’t the Manx government lobby UK universities and fight her cause and the cause of many a Manx student being victimised for living here? Here we have an example of a weak, possibly apathetic government and one that doesn’t seem to mind that it has an issue with student fees inconsistencies. Since I raised the issue about students not returning, the government has jumped on my bandwagon and hijacked it declaring that we must do more to attract our students back. I myself was a victim of Government’s selective policies when it comes to tuition fees. I was eligible for grant support under the old system but was denied it with no good reason given yet I was a Manx student, a male (in very short supply within teaching) and an experienced businessman looking to change his career from accountancy to teaching business and economics.
Returning to Rachel, she would pay for her second degree but can’t afford to as she or her parents will have to find £30K per year. She wants to return to the Island post-graduation so why isn’t the Manx government making an exceptions clause for highly skilled or needs students like Rachel? Why are they being selective about who they help and why isn’t the Manx government recognising that Rachel wants to return to the Island? Rachel saved up for a trip to Budapest to check out a veterinary school over there; she spent the money she earned over the summer on this. It’s a sad state of affairs when a student is having to sort this issue out herself.
85% of our students aren’t returning to the IOM post-graduation. Why? According to a survey I ran back in early August, 22% of respondents think there are limited job opportunities here, 24% think there are better job opportunities off Island, 22% think it’s too expensive and buying a house is too difficult. Our students don’t have faith in the government and when it is allowing a situation like Rachel’s to continue, I can see why. Our government must work harder to show our students that they care and that our students are wanted back. Our government must iron out these inconsistencies and work harder to generate jobs for students to come back to.
As a footnote, I want to see the abolition of the £2,500 tuition fee contributions. The way things are at the moment, some of our A Level students don’t get to go to university because their family can’t afford it.
Ministry of Justice. (n.d.). Fact sheet on the UK’s relationship with the Crown Dependencies. Retrieved from www.gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/361537/crown-dependencies.pdf