Post-study work visa could be introduced in Scotland

Political parties have agreed to consider the introduction of a new post-study work visa scheme for international students in Scotland

November 27, 2014

The issue is included in the final report of the Smith Commission, which has recommended which additional powers should be devolved from Westminster. However, no additional powers need to be devolved to allow the scheme to become a reality.

Instead, the five political parties in the Scottish Parliament have agreed that the UK and Holyrood governments should work together to “explore the possibility of introducing formal schemes to allow international higher education students graduating from Scottish further and higher education institutions to remain in Scotland and contribute to economic activity for a defined period of time”, the report says.

The agreement responds to calls from higher education and business leaders, who warned that Scotland’s economic growth was being hampered by skills shortages.

A joint letter sent to the Smith Commission earlier this month by representative organisations warned that the removal of the UK-wide post-study work route in 2012, combined with the hostility of the public debate around immigration, had resulted in a significant fall in the number of international students coming to Scotland.

Signatories of the letter included Universities Scotland, the University and College Union Scotland and NUS Scotland, alongside business groups including the Scottish Chambers of Commerce and the Institute of Directors Scotland.

Speaking earlier this month, Pete Downes, the convenor of Universities Scotland, said a modified visa policy could deliver “significant economic and social benefit” north of the border.

“Scotland has distinct demographic challenges that adversely affect our potential for economic growth,” said Professor Downes, the principal of the University of Dundee.

“We face skills shortages in key sectors, as articulated by business, and our universities are forced to operate in an anti-competitive environment in attracting international talent that could be of great economic and social benefit to Scotland.”

There is a precedent for Scotland having distinct visa arrangements to the rest of the UK. Between 2005 and 2008, an initiative called Fresh Talent allowed students to stay in Scotland and seek work for two years after graduation.

The Smith Commission report also recommends that the Scottish Parliament should be given the power to set income tax rates and should retain all the income tax raised in Scotland. It also proposes that Holyrood should be given powers to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in Scottish elections.

Alastair Sim, the director of Universities Scotland, said there was a “very strong” case for the introduction of a Scottish post-study work visa.

“We recognise that further devolution of powers are not necessary to deliver this as the Fresh Talent initiative was delivered under existing powers of the Scottish Parliament but the weight of the Smith Commission’s support gives renewed impetus to the fact that Scotland should be enabled to set its own policy in this area,” said Mr Sim.

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Reader's comments (1)

With no border controls between Scotland and the rest of the UK this is a ridiculous proposal and would lead to unintended consequences of hundreds (if not thousands) of job-seeking overseas graduates from Scottish institutions seeking work - or simply 'disappearing' - south of the border. Unless there is some way of restricting residence during the post study period to Scotland the scheme is unworkable. It would advantage Scottish universities in the international HE market to the detriment of their rUK competitors.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Professor-Keith Cameron Chair of Australian History UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN (UCD)
Senior Procurement Officer UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND
Clinician, Small Animal Emergency Services UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN (UCD)
Director COVENTRY UNIVERSITY COLLEGE

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest

Microlight pilot flies with flock of cranes

Reports of UK-based researchers already thinking of moving overseas after Brexit vote