An enhanced post-study work offer is needed to send a more “welcoming” message to overseas students looking to study here, the Universities UK (UUK) said ahead of its conference this week.
Under the visa proposals, graduates would be sponsored by a university to gain work experience in the UK for up to two years on a more flexible basis than currently permitted by the tier 2 visa.Employers could miss out on talented, skilled international graduates who help to fill skills gaps in the country – such as engineering, technology and medicine – if the new visa is not introduced, university leaders have warned.
Countries such as Australia, Canada and the US have seen the number of international students enrolled in education increase significantly (45 per cent, 57 per cent and 40 per cent respectively) since 2011, while the UK has seen an increase of only 3 per cent, UUK said.
These countries – which compete with the UK for international students – have more welcoming visa policies. For example, the US and Canada offers international graduates the opportunity to stay and work for up to three years after graduation, and Australia for up to four years.
Professor Sir Steve Smith, vice-chancellor at the University of Exeter and chair of UUK’s international policy network, told The Independent: “Now is the time – when we are 29 weeks away allegedly from Brexit – for the UK to make a grand statement about welcoming a new era where global talent can come to this country, study, work afterwards and thereby deal with the number one issue of the UK economy which is productivity growth with those skilled workers entering the workforce.”
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