LONDON, Sep 11 (Reuters / EP) –
Foreign students may remain in the United Kingdom in search of work for up to two years after graduating under the new rules announced on Wednesday by the Boris Johnson Government.
Under the current rules, introduced by Theresa May when she was Minister of the Interior, students can only stay for four months once they finish their studies.
“The important contribution of international students to our country and universities is both cultural and economic. Their presence benefits the United Kingdom,” said Education Minister Gavin Williamson, in a statement.
“Our universities thrive by being open global institutions. Introducing the itinerary for graduates guarantees that our prestigious higher education sector will continue to attract the best talents from around the world to a global United Kingdom,” he said.
The Government has indicated that the new itinerary for graduates will allow students to work, at any level. They can then move on to a qualified worker visa if they find a job that meets the requirements.
According to the Government, there will not be a cap on the number of students who can request this itinerary for graduates. Some 450,000 foreign students study each year in the United Kingdom.
The program will apply to those who begin to study a higher level degree or course from next year at “a trusted university in the United Kingdom or higher education center that has a proven track record of complying with immigration controls.”
“It was time. This stupid policy should have been revoked years ago. The United Kingdom should always be open to everyone's talent,” Finance Minister Sajid Javid wrote on Twitter.
But given the concern that immigration raises in many of the British, which was one of the compelling reasons in the campaign in favor of Brexit in 2016, the Johnson Government measure has not been well received by everyone.
Migration Watch, which campaigns for less immigration, has lamented the “retrograde step” that will lead foreign students to stay in the country to do low-skilled jobs. “The government only seems to raise ideas for how to increase immigration,” he said on Twitter.
“Our universities are attracting a record number of foreign students. There is no need to devalue a student visa and turn it into a backdoor to work here,” he lamented.