Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May was urged to lift UK post-study work visa (PSW) restrictions on foreign students, as it was said to be undermining British universities and harming the country’s search for global talent.
In a report by Financial Times, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid said that he was backing a move to liberalise students’ visa regime led by former universities minister Jo Johnson.
Before 2012, foreign students were allowed to stay and work in the UK for two years after graduation until May—then Home Secretary—clamped down on immigration and lessened the PSW programme to just four months.
Long-term drop in number of Indian students in the UK
Following the rules, the number of Indian students attending universities in UK plunged dramatically to just 16,000 in School Year 2016-2017 from 30,000 in 2011-2012.
Earlier this year, the government accepted suggestions to extend PSW to six months for undergraduate and master’s students and to a year for doctorate degrees. However, some stakeholders argued that such a short extension will unlikely increase interest.
Javid to allow two-year UK post-study work visa
Writing in the FT, Javid said that if he succeeded May as prime minister, he would adopt Johnson’s clause for international students in the UK to have the right to stay on to work for two years “government policy” anew.
“It makes no sense to send some of the world’s brightest and most enterprising people straight home after their time here,” he said.
“So as prime minister I would make Mr Johnson’s plan government policy,” he added.
“I want to put skilled Britons in the same room as bright Europeans and those from other nations — in Manchester, Leeds and London, not Paris or Stockholm.”
UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) chief executive Anne Marie Graham lauded Javid’s statement, and said that it will contribute to the successful delivery of the International Education Strategy.
“I’m very grateful to Jo Johnson and Paul Blomfield for their work to achieve cross-party support for this important amendment,” she added.
Photo: Jamie Street
Hari is the Managing Editor of Global Education Times. Hari has clocked nearly a decade working as a communications professional with a focus on the education sector. He has also had stints in journalism and advertising in a career which has seen him live, study, and work, in three countries.
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