International students will be allowed to stay in the UK for two years after graduation to find a job, under new proposals announced by the Home Office.
The move reverses a decision made in 2012 by then-Home Secretary Theresa May that forced overseas students to leave four months after finishing a degree.
Just over 450,000 international students are currently studying at UK universities, and almost two-thirds are from outside of the EU. Once these students graduate, under current rules they have four months to transfer to another visa.
Under the new proposals, students studying at an institution with a track record in upholding immigration checks will be allowed to stay in the country with no restriction of the kinds of jobs they can seek.
University of Glasgow Principal Anton Muscatelli said the government’s decision to allow international students to stay in the UK is a welcomed move.
“[This is] a step forward to help Scotland attract international students,” Muscatelli said.
In 2018, 6,300 individuals moved from student visas to skilled work visas, which means they were offered a salary of at least £20,800 in the first year, according to the Migration Observatory. An additional 450 were granted “high-value migrant” visas, which are for individuals with particular expertise in a field or a set sum of money to invest in the country.
Rachel Sandison, the University of Glasgow’s vice principal for external relations, said she is delighted to see a return of the two-year post-study work visa because it will help the UK regain competitiveness in key markets.
“As a world-changing, research-intensive, global university, we strive to attract the most talented students – and staff – from across the world,” Sandison said.
The Home Office has said it will announce details of the reintroduced scheme in due course.