post-study work visa
UK’s former universities minister Jo Johnson has called for the UK to double the duration of the post-study work visa. Source: Daniel Leal-Olivas AFP POOL

The UK’s former universities minister Jo Johnson has called for the duration of the post-study work visa to be doubled to four years. He reasons this would make the UK a globally attractive destination for students post-COVID-19 and Brexit.

In a new report – Universities Open to the World: How to put the bounce back in Global Britain – released on Monday, Johnson also called to double the number of Indian students in UK universities by 2024.  

The report was prepared by Johnson for the Policy Institute at King’s College London and the Harvard Kennedy School.

For much of the last decade, the UK Government has run contradictory policies aimed both at increasing education exports, while simultaneously “managing down international student numbers in a misguided attempt to reduce overall net migration to below 100,000,” according to Johnson.

This has created a volatile and unstable policy environment which saw the UK gradually see its share of the international education market slip over the past 10 years, he said.

International students are drawn to opportunities to work in the countries they graduate in. Forty percent of international students stated this as one of their top five considerations. 

“Retaining these high-skilled students is also a major benefit to the UK. A 2018 survey found that three-quarters of British people supported allowing international graduates to work in the UK for a period of time in order to enable them to contribute to the UK economy after their studies,” he said.

At the time of writing, Johnson’s call remains a proposal.

Previously, former universities minister Chris Skidmore made similar calls for a four-year post-study work visa. Former UK home secretary Sajid Javid also supported plans to make it easier for international students to work in the UK. 

Current UK post-study work visa 

The UK government reintroduced a two-year post-study work visa in 2019 after it was revoked by then home secretary Theresa May in 2012.

Graduates of UK universities with valid UK immigration status will be entitled to this visa.

The post-study work visa allows international graduates to work or look for a job for up to two years after graduating. It is also known as the “graduate route”.

The UK government website notes: “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.”

International students will still be eligible for the post-study work rights upon graduation if they begin or continue their studies online in the 2020/21 academic year.

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