More than a third of students at the University are not willing to share their campus with irregular immigrants, according to a study.

The survey was conducted by the University Students’ Council (KSU) among 400 students.

The campus was not the student’s only sore spot.

Forty per cent of respondents said they would not be comfortable living in the same street as an immigrant either.

Some even felt the job market should be a no-go zone.

44 per cent of the students said they agreed with the use of a controversial push-back policy

About 20 per cent said that they were against giving migrants equal work opportunities, even if they were qualified and in possession of a valid work permit.

The study on students’ perspectives follows a report by The People for Change Foundation, which, last week, highlighted the island’s lack of recognition of foreign qualifications and the effects this was having on local migrants.

The report, presented to the European Network Against Racism, had said migrants were being forced to seek employment in the black market.

The students’ views, which seem to reflect those of the majority of Maltese, came as the rest of the world marked the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

More than 90 per cent of the students surveyed acknowledged that racism was a problem and more than a third felt the island could no longer cope with the high number of arrivals.

Unsurprisingly, the students said the main reason for this was the island’s lack of space followed by a perceived lack of resources. Interestingly, one per cent felt that an increase in migrant arrivals would be a problem because of divergent religious beliefs.

Eighty-two per cent of last year’s migrant arrivals were granted some form of protection.

Despite this, the UN refugee office in Malta estimates that just 30 per cent of the 18,000 asylum seekers and irregular migrants who arrived on the island since 2002 remained here.

Asked what they felt could be done to help, 44 per cent of the students said they agreed with the use of a controversial push-back policy.

The contentious issue had dominated the headlines after Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had considered the return of a group of 102 migrants to Tripoli last July. The move was eventually blocked by the European Court of Human Rights following joint action by a number of humanitarian NGOs.

A landmark judgment by the Strasbourg Court had previously ruled that the Italian government had violated migrants’ human rights when it sent them back to Libya without processing their asylum applications.

The most popular solution to the migration problem among students was increased international burden sharing. Half of the students interviewed felt this would be most helpful, followed by efforts to support the countries of origin.

Despite students’ reluctance to live next to or share the campus with migrants, most said they recognised the importance of increased integration. T

Three-quarters of students felt this was a good idea. More than a third did not want migrants to be spread across the community. Instead, they should be housed in open centres, the students said.

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