The UK’s post-study work offer, part of the new post-Brexit immigration system, compares poorly with international competitors, a new review has found.
The review found countries are increasingly developing competitive migration policies aimed at attracting and retaining international students.
The key findings of the analysis, commissioned by the Scottish Government, and undertaken by Dr Paulina Trevena of the University of Glasgow, conclude:
• The UK Government should introduce a more competitive post-study work offer taking into consideration ease of application and application timescales, programme length, work entitlement and opportunities for applying to the programme after leaving the UK.
• An attractive post-study work offer in itself is not sufficient to ensure long-term retention of international students.
• The UK Government should implement additional measures supporting the longer term retention of international students, including language and employability support, integration programmes; provision of information and advice on conditions of stay and employment opportunities.
Nine countries were chosen for the review: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the US, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden within Europe.
“Opportunities for gaining work experience are important for international students. Meanwhile, the UK’s current and proposed post-study work offer is far less attractive than in its competitor countries. Brexit and the negative atmosphere around immigration also discourages international students from coming to the UK, especially those from EU countries,” Said Dr Trevena.
“If the UK Government aims to keep a competitive edge in attracting and retaining global talent, it should consider revising migration policies towards international students and strengthen practical support for those wishing to stay.”
Scottish Migration Minister Ben Macpherson said:
“Like many other developed countries, Scotland faces challenges relating to an ageing population and labour shortages, and the need to attract highly skilled labour in the knowledge economy. Brexit and the UK government are making this worse, as the UK looks increasingly insular and less attractive.
“The Scottish Government has long argued for the return of the post-study work visa, to allow students studying for all degrees at bachelor level and above to be able to remain in the UK for two years after graduating.
“UK government immigration policies are not delivering adequately for Scotland. We increasingly need tailored immigration policies that better meet Scotland’s needs. The evidence and our experience to date shows that we hugely benefit from migration, and new Scots settling here, supporting our economy and enriching our communities.
“We will continue to press for the reintroduction of a post-study work route in Scotland, so that people who study here can then build their lives and careers here.”