UK tests new visa scheme for grads

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - ByWANG MINGJIE in Lon­don wang­mingjie@mail.chi­nadai­lyuk.com

The United King­dom has started a new pi­lot pro­gram for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, in­clud­ing those from China, that al­lows them to stay in the coun­try for an ex­tra six months af­ter grad­u­a­tion with a master’s de­gree from one of four top uni­ver­si­ties.

The so-called Tier 4 Visa pi­lot pro­gram, in­tended to run for two years, is open to in­ter­na­tional stu­dents ac­cepted for a one-year master’s de­gree pro­gram at the Uni­ver­sity of Ox­ford, Uni­ver­sity of Cam­bridge, Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don or Uni­ver­sity of Bath.

The scheme will cover visa ap­pli­ca­tions de­cided on or af­ter July 25 this year, and is for stu­dents who com­mence their stud­ies in the 2016-17 or 2017-18 school years.

Un­der the pi­lot, no fund­ing or ed­u­ca­tion back­ground cer­tifi­cates are re­quired for a visa.

The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment Q&A cir­cu­lar sent to uni­ver­sity vice-chan­cel­lors says the four uni­ver­si­ties “were se­lected due to their con­sis­tently low level of visa re­fusals. The pi­lot is in­ten­tion­ally nar­row in scope in or­der to mon­i­tor the pi­lot out­comes against the stated ob­jec­tives and to min­i­mize the risk of un­in­tended con­se­quences be­fore con­sid­er­ing rolling it out more widely.”

“This pi­lot scheme is an en­cour­ag­ing step for­ward,” said Alice Gast, pres­i­dent of Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don. “The abil­ity to stay on for six months will bring ben­e­fits to the stu­dents and to the coun­try as our tal­ented grad­u­ates will be able to pur­sue their en­tre­pre­neur­ial ideas, fur­ther study or add to the UK’s tal­ent pool.”

Tanya Wang, se­nior im­mi­gra­tion ad­viser at UVIC, an ed­u­ca­tion and visa ser­vice agency, said “the pur­pose of the scheme is clear, to at­tract more ex­cep­tional tal­ent to the UK, start­ing with four top­tier uni­ver­si­ties. It could be a sign of eas­ing im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy”.

How­ever, Wang said the eas­ing does not cover ev­ery­one. The gov­ern­ment wants to keep the UK at­trac­tive for tal­ented stu­dents, suc­cess­ful entrepreneurs, high net-worth in­di­vid­u­als and peo­ple from whom the coun­try can ben­e­fit in a post-Brexit con­text.

The new plan of­fers stu­dents ac­cess to a stream­lined visa ap­pli­ca­tion process and the op­por­tu­nity to stay in the UK for six months af­ter their stud­ies to work, ex­plore fur­ther stud­ies, start up a busi­ness or even just to travel.

Some in­sid­ers be­lieve it’s a step in the right di­rec­tion by the new­gov­ern­ment but that it won’t make a huge dif­fer­ence for those seek­ing per­ma­nent em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in the UK, which re­quires a switch to a work visa.

The abil­ity to stay on for six months will bring ben­e­fits to the stu­dents and to the coun­try.” Alice Gast, pres­i­dent of Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don

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