Britain losing out on ‘global talent’ by restricting international student visas


The cross-party All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Migration published, on 24th February, the results of its investigation into the impact of the government’s restrictions on post-study work opportunities for international students which were implemented in 2012.

The UK’s post-study work route enabled non-EU graduates to remain in the country to seek employment for up to two years after the completion of their studies.

Following the government’s decision to close this route, the number of international students enrolled at UK institutions dropped significantly last year for the first time since monitoring began in 1994-5.

Commenting on the results of the report, Labour MP and APPG chair Paul Blomfield said: “The report lays bare the negative impact that closure of the former post-study work visa has had on British businesses and universities.

“Alternative visa routes have failed to attract talent and have actually prevented skilled graduates from contributing to the UK jobs market. There is strong cross-party agreement on the need to take action to restore our reputation as the ‘destination of choice’ for international students from all countries.”

UK government MPs have suggested that “the current UK post-study work opportunities should be reconsidered”, with a view to “maximising the attractiveness of UK higher education in the face of an increasingly competitive international marketplace.”

MPs have also voiced the importance of “continuing to serve the interests of UK employers, particularly within growth areas of the economy such as STEM” and “sending a positive message internationally that the UK is “open for business”.

The APPG report includes a number of suggestions for how the UK might move forward, including the establishment of a “new immigration route” which allows non-EEA (European Economic Area) students to stay and search for employment in the UK for “at least 12 months following graduation from a recognised domestic academic institution.”

Another member of the group, Conservative MP Richard Bacon, added that the “government’s current approach to post-study work and student migration policy is jeopardising Britain’s position in the global race for talent.

“We need to adjust our policy and improve our ability to attract students from around the world.”

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