In a major boost for international students, the UK government has today (11 Sep 2019) announced a new two-year post-study work visa, expanding opportunities for talented international students to build successful careers in the UK.
International students are to be offered a two-year work visa after graduating from a British university, the government will announce, overturning a key plank of Theresa May’s restrictive immigration policies.
Often referred to as a ‘Post-Study Work visa’, the new Graduate route will launch for the 2020/21 intake of students to university. After the two years, they will be able to switch onto the skilled work visa if they find a job which meets the skill requirement of the route. Further details will be announced in due course.
The visa will offer opportunities to work or look for work after graduating. However, unlike the route which closed in 2012, this new route will also include safeguards to ensure only genuine, credible students are eligible.
Currently, graduates with bachelors or master’s degrees are allowed to look for work for only four months. From next year all international graduates could qualify for a two-year period to work in the UK, increasing their chances of finding long-term employment after studying.
Under the new policy, the visas would have no cap on numbers and would allow graduates to apply for jobs regardless of their skills or the subject they studied. The government said part of the aim was to recruit talented graduates in disciplines such as maths, engineering and technology.
Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, said: “The important contribution international students make to our country and universities is both cultural and economic. Their presence benefits Britain, which is why we’ve increased the period of time these students can remain in the UK after their studies.
“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 announcement was greeted with enthusiasm by Universities UK, which represents 130 institutions. Its members are braced for falling numbers of students from the EU in the event of Brexit.
Alistair Jarvis, the chief executive of Universities UK, said the previous visa regime put the UK at a “competitive disadvantage” in recruiting international students.
“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,” Jarvis said. “Not only will a wide range of employers now benefit from access to talented graduates from around the world, these students hold lifelong links with the UK.”
Last year UK universities educated around 460,000 international students, not including those from within the EU. The government aims to grow the number to 600,000 over the next 10 years.