Wide support for extension of foreign student stay time

Business leaders and educationists have welcomed the government's decision to allow international students to remain in the UK for two years after graduating so that they can find work.

Graduands from Clare College Cambridge process to their graduation ceremony
The new arrangements, which will apply to students beginning their courses at recognised British colleges from next autumn, marks a return to the system in place until 2012 when Theresa May, the-then home secretary, ruled the stay time "too generous" and replaced it with the current four-month remain period for non-EU nationals.In the last academic year, some 460,000 international students, not including EU students, attended courses at UK institutions.Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new system represented "a new route for international students to unlock their potential and start their careers in the UK".Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday, "There is a move in opinion polls that suggests that migration is now increasingly popular, but of course the backdrop to that is, in leaving the EU, it will be our government that's able to determine our migration policy."That's incredibly important, is that now we get to decide and, instead of being open to free movement from just the EU, the UK will be able to take advantage of a global talent pool of young people and workforce coming from all around the world and that's something that's a great advantage for us."

International students bring £26 billion to the UK economy

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, described the announcement as "very positive"."Evidence shows that international students bring significant positive social outcomes to the UK as well as £26 billion in economic contributions, but for too long the lack of post-study work opportunities in the UK has put us at a competitive disadvantage in attracting those students," he said."The introduction of a two-year post-study work visa is something Universities UK has long campaigned for and we strongly welcome this policy change, which will put us back where we belong as a first choice study destination."Not only will a wide range of employers now have access to talented graduates from around the world, these students hold lifelong links."

Diane Abbott: work visa £30,000 salary limit foolish

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott welcomed the move but said it "also highlights the foolishness of government plans to place a salary limit on work visas at £30,000" because many international graduates were "doing fantastic medical and other research (but) earn less than that".
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International students will later be able to apply for longer-term work visas

The Department for Education said the new immigration route would be available to international students "who have successfully completed a course in any subject at undergraduate level or higher at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance, and have tier 4 visa at the point the route is introduced".A department spokesman said the route would allow students to look for work at any level, and allow them to later apply for longer-term work visas. "Those on the route will be able to switch on to the skilled work route if they find a job which meets the skill requirement of the route," he said.

Confederation of British Industry (CBI): this is unequivocally good news

Business leaders expressed their support for the move. Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “This is unequivocally good news and sends a clear signal that the UK is open for business. Improving the UK’s post-study work offer will make us an even more attractive destination for global talent – benefiting both universities and businesses alike."International students bring a richness of culture and diversity of thought to our education sector. They also provide a huge competitive advantage for UK businesses, who benefit from the skills, ideas and talents which our own universities have invested in.""Overseas students forge lasting ties with the UK which stay with them throughout their careers. It is right that the government has recognised their enormous contribution."

The BCC welcomes the decision to restore the two-year post-study work visa

Mike Spicer, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), added, "The BCC has long called for the two-year post-study work visa to be restored so this decision is welcome, if not overdue. This visa allows British universities and companies to benefit from the talent and energy of some of the students they have work so hard to train."At a time of critical labour shortages, it’s right that the UK’s immigration system reflects economic reality and removes undue barriers to accessing skills. International students are crucial to the success of UK universities and the business communities in which they operate, and local companies will benefit from the opportunity to harness and develop their talent."

For more news and views on UK immigration issues, visit our dedicated UK and immigration sections. 

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