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expert reaction to a change in UK student visa rules allowing students to stay for two years after graduation

The UK Government has announced changes to student immigration rules that will allow students to remain in the UK for up to two years following their graduation. 


Prof Dame Anne Glover FRS PRSE, said;

“I strongly welcome the UK Government’s decision to reintroduce the two-year post-study work visa – something the Royal Society of Edinburgh has consistently called for since the policy was abolished in 2012. Attracting and retaining international students is vital to the social and economic wellbeing of Scotland and the move to harness the skills of these students following their studies is supported on a cross-party basis in the Scottish Parliament.  I would also welcome clarity on the length of initial student study visas to ensure that they are granted, at the outset, for the full length of the course of study.

“For many international students the ability to begin a career in the UK after completing their education is an influential factor in deciding which Higher Education institution to attend and the reinstatement of the post-study work visa can play an important role in ensuring Scotland, and the UK, remains an attractive destination for the world’s talented young people.

“In addition to utilising their skills and providing benefit to our economy, allowing these graduates to remain in Scotland can play an important role in addressing some of the distinct demographic challenges we face as a nation.”


A spokesperson for the Institute of Physics (IOP), said:

“The future of the UK’s research and innovation base, and therefore its prosperity and productivity, will only come from maintaining our world-leading position in science and engineering.  That’s why the IOP welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Government will reintroduce two-year post-study work visas for students taking courses in the UK at undergraduate level and above. 

“Science is a global endeavour so it’s right that the UK looks to attract the world’s best scientists to help us compete globally. If the UK is going to be part of solving the big challenges facing our communities both at home and around the world, we will need to continue to work side-by-side with the very best scientists wherever they come from.

“However there are other issues the Government must now address in its immigration reforms.  For example salary is not a valid proxy for skill level and competencies in science and innovation, and the proposed salary threshold (£30,000) for immigrants to the UK under the new immigration system may result in many highly skilled scientists, researchers and technicians becoming ineligible to move to the UK.”


Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“I am delighted Chris Skidmore has returned to the post of Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation. His experience and enthusiasm for research and innovation are crucial at a time when government is planning how to deliver on its ambitions to significantly increase levels of research and development spending. The Academy looks forward to working with him again on this and navigating the UK’s participation in EU research and innovation programmes.

“I also welcome today’s announcement that from next year overseas students studying in the UK will once again be able to stay in the UK and work for two years after graduation. Engineering students, whether from the UK or overseas, are a huge asset to this country and this announcement will enable more of them to use their skills for the good of our society, economy and environment and help to fill the UK’s annual shortfall of 59,000 engineering graduate and technician roles.”


Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of the Royal Society of Biology said:

“International students make a vital contribution to University diversity and research. Allowing them to use the skills and knowledge gained to immediately contribute to the UK economy post-graduation makes enormous sense. We are delighted that the Government has listened to the concerns of our universities and employers and welcome the decision to allow these students to stay and work in the UK for up to two years after graduation.”


Dr Sarah Main, Director, Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), said:

“This is terrific news. It will be a boost to the UK’s science and engineering economy, which attracts significant numbers of international students, by enabling students to move more easily in to the job market. This can only help innovation and discovery thrive in the UK.

“Of course, we have yet to see how a new migration system will treat EU nationals wishing to study and work in science and engineering. I hope the Government will ensure the UK is a magnet for their talent also. 

“Having had a meagre offer for the last seven years, the UK has just returned to an internationally competitive offer for undergraduate and postgraduate students. 

“Some of the UK’s biggest R&D companies talk of the ‘war for talent’ in areas such as AI. The UK has just raised its game.”


Announcement made by the UK Government:


Declared interests

The nature of this story means everyone quoted above could be perceived to have a stake in it.  So our policy is not to ask for interests to be declared, instead they are implicit in each person’s affiliation.

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