Following calls from Universities UK (UUK), the umbrella body for the sector, the SNP has reiterated calls for the UK government to reintroduce the post-study work visa for international students.
The visa previously allowed international students to stay in the UK to work for up to two years, but was scrapped in 2012. Currently, international students have just four months to find a job with a tier two sponsor.
Carol Monaghan MP, the SNP’s Wesminster Spokesperson for Education, has repeatedly called for the reinstatement of the visa in the House of Commons, where the Scottish Affairs Committee concluded in February 2016 that the scrapping of the UK-wide visa scheme in 2012 had made Scotland a less attractive destination to study, with the number of non-EU students remaining in Scotland after graduation falling by over 80%.
Universities Scotland has said that the UK subsequently has “one of the least competitive policies on post-study work in the English-speaking world.”
A pilot scheme to reintroduce the ‘Post-Study Work Visa’ at four universities in England was announced in August 2016. Despite pressure from across the political spectrum, the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament, Scottish Affairs Committee, businesses, trade unions, and the education sector, Scotland was described to have been ‘snubbed’ from this pilot.
Two Scottish HEIs were included in the extended pilot announced in December 2017, which Monaghan said at the time “simply doesn’t go far enough.”
Commenting, Carol Monaghan MP said:
“The UK Government seem totally oblivious to the damage that scrapping the post-study work visa has done. Whilst the UK has seen an increase in international students of only 3%, countries like Australia and Canada had growth of 45% and 57% respectively.
“This inaction is simply not good enough. Ministers cannot sit on their hands whilst the brightest talent turn away from our world-class universities.
“The SNP has long campaigned for the return of the post-study visa, and for an immigration system that fits Scotland’s needs.
“The representative body of universities in the UK has made it clear that the UK is in danger of losing is position as a world-leader in international education, and the return of the visa enjoys wide public support.
“If the Tories want to showcase the UK as a serious option for international students, they should heed the calls of Universities UK and reinstate the post-study work visa.
“Should they not be up to the job, then the UK Government should devolve the powers to the Scottish Parliament and let the SNP allow Scotland’s universities to flourish.”
‘Government must introduce new visa for international students to be more ‘welcoming’, university leaders say’ – https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/international-students-post-study-work-visa-universities-uk-uuk-brexit-hostile-environment-a8521316.html
‘Ministers to hold post-study visa talks’ – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-37811214
‘Scottish government calls for devolution of immigration policy’ – https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/feb/07/scottish-government-calls-for-devolution-of-immigration-policy
‘MPs say immigration review should consider devolution of powers’ – https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/mps-say-immigration-review-should-consider-devolution-of-powers-1-4766923
‘The government is dangerously close to deterring students and taxpayers’ – https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2017/09/government-dangerously-close-deterring-students-and-taxpayers