Immigration minister Damian Green last week announced that new rules will soon come into force that will help to reduce abuse of the student visa route and ensure that only “the brightest and the best students” can stay and work in the UK. The most controversial of the new rules is undoubtedly the abolition of the post-study work visa from April this year. This visa allowed self-financing students from India and other non-EU countries to work in the UK for two years after their studies were completed.
The British Council and Universities UK have voiced their strong opposition to the upcoming changes, over concern that Britain will lose its appeal as a study destination for students from other countries. International students are estimated to contribute more than 14 billion pounds a year to the UK economy and recent reports indicate that there is already a decline of 30% in applications from the Indian sub-continent alone.
The British Council presented a detailed report titled ‘Impact of Visa Changes on Student Mobility and Outlook for the UK’ to the government, saying: “Students from certain countries who mainly study postgraduate courses in the UK – such as India, Pakistan and others — will be affected by the removal of the post-study work visa.”
The Council has called for an urgent review of the changes, particularly the closure of the popular post-study work visa from April this year.
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK has said about the matter: “We support the elimination of abuse in the visa system but are concerned that an unintended consequence of the changes to Tier 4 is that legitimate students will be put off, or prevented from studying in the UK”.
She added: “We are particularly concerned about limited provision for post-study employment in the new rules. We recognise that unrestricted access to the labour market is not possible in the current economic climate, but the new rules risk having a disproportionate impact on particular sectors, regions and professions, and reducing the global talent pool from which employers can recruit”.
According to the National Union of Students, over 75% of international students surveyed said that the option of the post-study work in the UK was “a very important factor in deciding to study in the UK”.
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