Universities in the UK are apprehensive that the UK would lose out its position as one of the preferred destinations for overseas studies. They have suggested a new “Global Graduate Talent Visa” which will allow qualified overseas students to stay and work in the UK for up to 2 years.
Ever since the UK discontinued its Post Study Work Visa in 2012, the number of international students in the UK has greatly declined. The Post Study Work Visa allowed students to gain experience in the UK for up to 2 years after graduation.
The major reason cited by Indian students on the decline is the lack of post-study options in the UK.
The Universities UK have highlighted the immigration policies of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand which have attractive post study options. Canada and New Zealand each have a provision of up to 3 years of Post Study Work Permit after graduation. Australia has a provision of up to 4 years of Post Study Work Permit in its immigration policies.
The number of Indian students in the UK has declined from 24,000 in 2010-11 to around 9,000 in 2015-16, as per the Daily Pioneer.
Universities UK, which has a membership of around 136 UK Universities, says that its visa proposal will involve all education institutes registered as Tier 4 sponsors. They would be able to sponsor their students to find work and gain UK experience for up to 2 years.
The proposed visa would not be a pathway to settlement but will allow international students to gain valuable international work experience. It would allow employers from all over the UK to gain access to skilled graduates from across the globe. This would also include medium and small entrepreneurs who do not have Tier 2 sponsorship licenses due to the high costs involved.
The Migration Advisory Committee is soon to present its report to the UK Govt. on the benefit and costs of international students in coming weeks. Universities UK hence believe that the timing of their visa proposal is appropriate.
There have been fears of Post-study Work Visa abuse in the past. However, Universities UK points out that the exit check data of the UK Home Office shows that 98% of students did not overstay.
Currently, students who wish to gain work experience in the UK need to have an offer of employment from an employer holding Tier 2 sponsor license. They get only 4 months time to look for such a job offer. There is also a condition that the salary offered should be GBP 20,800 annually. PhD students get 12 months time to stay post completion of their course.
Universities UK believes that post-Brexit, UK needs flexible immigration policies which demonstrate its global competitiveness.
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