After years of campaigning, I welcome the Government’s announcement today that international students will be offered a two-year work visa after graduating from a UK university, but we need further steps to help achieve the target for recruitment set by the Government in their International Education Strategy.
I’ve been leading on this campaign in Parliament for seven years, most recently working with the previous Universities Minister Jo Johnson to table a cross-party amendment to the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination Bill. I chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Students with CBI Vice-President Lord Karan Bilimoria. Our 2018 report ‘A Sustainable Future for International Students in the UK’ set out eight recommendations for policy changes by Government.
In March the Government adopted our first recommendation of establishing an ambitious target to increase international student recruitment. Today I am delighted that they have acted on our second recommendation by finally reversing the damaging decision to scrap the post-study work visa first introduced in 2008.
Now they must take up our other recommendations if they are to achieve their targets. The next step would be to remove barriers in visa application processes and in particular to review the credibility interviews which allow Home Office staff to block applications on the basis of questions which no UK student could be expected to answer.
A further step to secure the talents of international graduates, not covered by our report, would be to reduce the Tier 2 salary threshold of £30,000 which is a barrier to recruitment in certain sectors and regions of the UK.
You can read more about my work on students here.