UK to let for­eign stu­dents stay 2 yrs af­ter grad­u­a­tion

Kuwait Times - - Front Page -

LON­DON: In­ter­na­tional stu­dents will be able to stay in Bri­tain look­ing for work for up to two years af­ter they grad­u­ate un­der new rules an­nounced by the govern­ment yes­ter­day. Un­der current rules, in­tro­duced by for­mer prime min­is­ter Theresa May when she was in­te­rior min­is­ter, stu­dents are only al­lowed to stay for four months af­ter they fin­ish their de­gree. “The im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion in­ter­na­tional stu­dents make to our coun­try and uni­ver­si­ties is both cul­tural and eco­nomic. Their pres­ence benefits Bri­tain,” Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Gavin Wil­liamson said in a state­ment.

“Our uni­ver­si­ties thrive on be­ing open global in­sti­tu­tions. Introducin­g the grad­u­ate route en­sures our pres­ti­gious higher ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor will con­tinue to at­tract the best tal­ent from around the world to global Bri­tain.” The govern­ment said the new grad­u­ate route would en­able stu­dents to work, or look for work, at any skill level. They could then switched to a skilled work visa if they found a job that met the re­quire­ments.

There will not be a cap on the num­ber of stu­dents who can ap­ply for the grad­u­ate route, it said. There are about 450,000 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents a year study­ing in Bri­tain. It will ap­ply to those who start an un­der­grad­u­ate level or above course from next year in any sub­ject at “a trusted UK univer­sity or higher ed­u­ca­tion provider which has a proven track record in up­hold­ing im­mi­gra­tion checks”. “About time. Should have re­versed this silly pol­icy years ago. Bri­tain should al­ways be open to the best tal­ent from across the world,” fi­nance min­is­ter Sa­jid Javid said on Twit­ter.

Busi­ness Sec­re­tary An­drea Lead­som said the change was aimed at at­tract­ing the “bright­est and the best from around the world” and a sign of “the UK’s am­bi­tion once we have left the Euro­pean Union”. “In­stead of be­ing open to free move­ment from just the (EU), the United King­dom will be able to take ad­van­tage of a global tal­ent pool... and that’s some­thing that’s a great ad­van­tage for us,” she told BBC ra­dio.

Lead­som said the govern­ment wanted to in­crease the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in Bri­tain 30 per­cent to 600,000 by 2030, with an em­pha­sis on science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and maths, col­lec­tively

known as STEM sub­jects. In­ter­na­tional stu­dents cur­rently make up half of all full-time post-grad­u­ate STEM stu­dents in the coun­try. “Giving them that twoyear pe­riod will en­able them to find a job that be­fits their de­gree,” Lead­som added. “There are so many new skills and new in­dus­tries that are just now emerg­ing, and we do want to be able to at­tract a global tal­ent pool of peo­ple.”

But with con­cerns over lev­els of im­mi­gra­tion a key driver be­hind Bri­tain’s 2016 vote to leave the Euro­pean Union, the move was not uni­ver­sally wel­comed. Alp Mehmet, chair­man of Mi­gra­tion Watch UK, which cam­paigns to re­duce im­mi­gra­tion lev­els, said it was an “un­wise” and “ret­ro­grade” step which would “likely lead to for­eign grad­u­ates stay­ing on to stack shelves, as happened be­fore”. “Our uni­ver­si­ties are at­tract­ing a record num­ber of overseas stu­dents so there is no need to de­value a study visa by turn­ing it into a back­door route for work­ing here,” he added. — Agen­cies

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