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by Gemma Fraser
11 September 2018
Post-study work visa needed for international students

Image credit: Chris Radburn/PA

Post-study work visa needed for international students

The body that represents Scottish universities has warned that the sector will be left “stagnating” if a post-study work visa is not reinstated for students studying in Scotland.

The comments made by Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, were made following the publication of a report by the Migration Advisory Committee on international students.

Sim said: “Today’s report explicitly says that ‘international students offer positive economic benefit.’

“If the government’s industrial strategy is to be a success it needs a vibrant higher education sector and it is impossible to imagine that without significant and strong recruitment of international students.

“In that context, it’s disappointing not to see a recommendation for a visa regime that will enable Scottish universities to compete to attract international student talent to our nation.

“Business groups support us, political and civic groups across Scotland support us, and the Scottish public support us.

“Since 2015 we have seen our competitors in other countries recruit significantly more international students.

“This is helped by government policy in these countries. The status quo for the UK means we’re stagnating when the rest of the world actively seeks these immensely talented, smart and motivated people.

“Affirmation of the value of international students in the report needs to be backed up with substantive policy change.

“We will continue to argue and demonstrate that international students bring value to our nation, and that we need a competitive post-study work visa to attract them to Scotland.”

Sim’s comments have been backed by the Scottish Government.

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said: “This report falls far short of meeting Scotland’s economic needs in the face of a bad deal or no-deal Brexit that the Scottish Government wants to avoid.

“International students bring huge value to our universities, colleges and communities and there is overwhelming support, in the Scottish Parliament and across our institutions, for a post study work visa to meet our demographic needs.

“The report does offer some welcome proposals to widen the opportunity for international students to stay and seek work after graduation.

“However it is extremely disappointing that the Migration Advisory Committee advises against removing international students from the net migration target, for technical reasons, despite acknowledging that the UK Government’s actions are undermining the global attractiveness of higher education in the UK.

“This will have a deeply damaging impact and I call again on the UK Government to reinstate the post study work visa for students who attend universities in Scotland.”

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