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2-year Post Study Work Visa reinstated in the UK as part of its ongoing International Education Strategy

In a not-so-surprising-but-fantastic turn of events, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has announced the reinstatement of a 2-year post-study work visa in the UK. This reverses Theresa May’s (then UK Home Secretary) revocation of work visas on the grounds that it was too generous, seven years ago. Given the current 4 months stay after graduation to find work, this new development is a much-welcomed relief to international students looking to study in the UK. 

UK’s new motto could be “You are welcome to study and stay back to work”

According to the new rule, from 2020, international students enrolled for undergraduate level and higher are allowed to stay back for a span of 2 years in the UK after graduation to work or find work. The best part about this change is that there is no cap on the number of students who can apply for this. 

The real hero of this progress is Jo Johnson, the former Minister of State for Science, Research, and Innovation (resigned in September 2019) and brother of Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who has advocated this right from the start. 

A slump in international student recruitment

The decision to terminate work visas in 2012 by the then Home Secretary Theresa May, resulted in the drastic decline of international student recruitment, especially from India. In spite of the top-notch education the UK provides, international students found it less lucrative when compared to other key global competitors like the US, Canada, and Australia, which have offered 3-4 years time to stay back and work after graduation. 

In an analysis published by Universities UK, it was estimated that the UK might have lost £8 billion in terms of export earnings from international students during 2013-2017. This was mainly because of the scrapping of work visas. 

During 2010-2011, the count of Indian students studying in the UK was 39,090 which came down to a mere 16,550 by 2016-2017. 

Although the UK is known for providing a high standard of education among many other benefits, poor immigration laws have pushed it to the back seat. Taking this to their advantage, competitive countries like the US, Australia, and Germany have posted an increase in the percentage of international students’ enrollments while the percentage remained the same for the UK. 

International Student strategy to boost recruitment number

In order to combat this ordeal, the UK has devised a strategy for its international education. One of the targets is to increase the number of international students in the UK to 600,000 by 2030. The total enrollment during 2016-17 was 442,375. This strategy also targets an increase in the income generated by international education by a big 75% to £35 billion a year by 2030.  

The Education Secretary of UK said, “As we prepare to leave the EU, it is more important than ever to reach out to our global partners and maximize the potential of our best assets – that includes our education offer and the international students this attracts.” The government’s desperation to boost its economy with the impending No-deal Brexit has given rise to the international education strategy, making it a win-win situation for both UK and international students looking to study in the UK. 

Current immigration stats of Indians in the UK

According to GOV.UK, though there was a drastic decline in the number of international and Indian students who have opted to study in the UK since 2012, the last three years have seen a slow rise in the recruitment number. 

As of June 2019, there were 22,000 Indian students in the UK, which was a 42% increase from the previous year and almost 100% higher than 3 years ago. In addition to this increase, the majority of Indians who wish to go to the UK were provided a visa, with a success rate of 96%. This shows that the UK is a more welcoming country in terms of acquiring a visa when compared to other study abroad destinations. 

The increase in the number of Indians studying in the UK is set to increase further with the announcement of the new post-study work rights. This news has delighted many top UK representatives. 

Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has stated that “The new Graduate Route will mean talented international students, whether in science and maths or technology and engineering, can study in the UK and then gain valuable work experience as they go on to build successful careers. It demonstrates our global outlook and will ensure that we continue to attract the best and brightest.” 

While the British High Commissioner to India Sir Dominic Asquith has said “ This is fantastic news for Indian students, who will now be able to spend more time in the UK after completing their degree, allowing them to gain further skills and experience. The UK is home to some of the best higher education institutions in the world and continues to welcome international students. I’m delighted that the number of Indian students coming to study in the UK is constantly increasing, having doubled over the last three years. Last year alone we saw a massive 42% increase. This exciting announcement will help ensure that the UK remains one of the best destinations for students across the world.”

What’s in store and how it will benefit Indian students

With the Brexit deal looming around the corner (October 31) and the current announcement of extending post-study work visa to 2 years, international students and especially Indians looking to study abroad are set to benefit the most. 

  • With tuition fees being on the higher side, Indian students will now have 2 years time to stay back, find work and clear their education loans. 
  • The new announcement only suggests the UK’s more welcoming attitude towards foreign students. 
  • According to a report, it was found that foreign students who study at UK universities earn 50% more than their British counterparts. 
  • The 2-year post-study work route will allow more chances to apply for a longer-term work visa later. 
  • Foreign students will be allowed to work on any job regardless of their skill and there will be no cap on the number of students who will be given the permit. 
  • After Britain exits from the European Union, the number of enrollments from the EU is set to decrease and this will benefit Indian students in terms of both university admissions and the job market. 
  • With more foreign students choosing the UK for higher education, it will become more culturally diverse and proceed towards the number one destination for education globally.

Though the announcement on the 2-year post-study work visa extension has been made, a complete timeline and plans are yet to be revealed. With the announcement suggesting that only students who graduate from 2021 will be applicable to this new change, it is unclear what happens to the current batch of students who are studying in UK universities and who are starting college this year. Follow our blog as we will update the complete information as soon as it is made available.

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