By Melissa Tutesigensi
Universities UK is calling for the government to re-evaluate the Post-Study Work Visa to allow post-graduate international students to stay and work in the UK for up to two years after their degree.
At their annual conference in Sheffield, Universities UK highlighted that reversing some of the changes of 2012 would improve the appeal of UK Universities to overseas students given the reality of the global competition.
Major changes to Post-Study Work Visas were made in 2012 as part of wider changes in immigration policy, making it harder for international students to stay and work in the UK upon completing their courses.
While it is possible to stay in the UK after graduating, currently there are salary thresholds, time limits for moving into work and sponsorship requirements – Universities UK wants to change this.
David Evans, Durham’s Postgraduate Academic Officer, has championed the initiative, and suggested the changes in 2012 were “symptomatic of a wider issue of the contribution of international students to our universities, and to the country as a whole, being undervalued.”
“The decision by the government to scrap [the post-study work visa’s] back in 2012 never really made much sense.”
The decision by the government to scrap back in 2012 never really made much sense and is symptomatic of a wider issue
A change in the visa restrictions would certainly have an impact in Durham given the university’s international population.
University College London research shows that currently, the UK stands third behind Australia and the US in international student population.
Research led by Universities UK published in March 2017 found that international students are worth over £25 billion to the UK economy.
5,356 international students were enrolled at Durham for the academic year 2017/2018, which constituted 29.7% of the student population.
Since 2011, countries such as Australia, Canada, and the US have experienced high growth in international demand for study, while the total number of enrolled international students in the UK has not changed, which, according to Universities UK, has led to lost market share.
Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool has stated: “We are proposing a new graduate visa that would make the UK more attractive to students and would allow a wider range of employers, in all parts of the UK, to benefit from access to talented graduates from around the world.”
A breakdown of the number of international students at Durham can be found here
Photograph: Sylvar via Flickr