UK to let foreign students stay 2 yrs after graduation
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