UK government ‘must commit to keeping post-study work visa’

MPs and peers issue call for ministers to guarantee survival of graduate visa route into next Parliament

July 19, 2023
Houses of Parliament at night

The Westminster government “must publicly commit to maintaining the graduate visa”, a group of MPs and peers has urged, following suggestions that the home secretary, Suella Braverman, is moving against the scheme and amid rising Tory opposition.

A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Students, The Graduate Visa: An Effective Post-Study Pathway for International Students in the UK, concludes its inquiry into the effectiveness of the graduate visa, two years since its launch.

The graduate visa route allows overseas students to stay in the UK for up to two years after graduation so they can find work. It is viewed as key to making UK universities attractive to potential international students, particularly in the key market of India.

Chief among the APPG’s recommendations is that the “government must publicly commit to maintaining the graduate visa into the next Parliament”.

The government should also “commit to regular reviews of the global competitiveness and effectiveness of the graduate visa as part of the annual review of the International Education Strategy”, it says.

The Times reported last month that Ms Braverman, seeking to reduce net migration, “submitted plans to the Cabinet that would reform the graduate visa route” and “wanted to reduce the period to six months, after which foreign graduates would have to obtain a work visa by getting a skilled job or be forced to leave the UK”.

But the education secretary, Gillian Keegan, blocked the plans, it said.

Meanwhile, the New Conservatives, a group of MPs on the right of the party seeking to put pressure on Rishi Sunak with an agenda to slash net migration, recently urged him to scrap the graduate visa.

Paul Blomfield, Labour MP and co-chair of the APPG for International Students, said: “It is crucial for the government to address these concerns and take decisive action to support international students, enhance the graduate visa, and reinforce the UK’s position as a global leader in education and innovation.”

Lord Bilimoria, his fellow co-chair, said: “The graduate visa has been central to the success of the International Education Strategy. Our principal recommendation is to provide reassurance on its future. If universities, colleges and employers know the graduate visa is here to stay, the potential for international graduates to open global doors to UK business is exponential.”

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