UK government measures to close the Post Study Work visa route thereby restricting work foreign students can do following graduation is a “retrograde step” that will undermine Britain’s higher education sector, a leading business group has warned this week.
Simon Walker, Director General of the influential business leaders group Institute of Directors (IOD), blasted the moves saying:
“it is pure sophistry to manipulate immigration figures by shooing to the door highly-trained international students with MBAs to make way for unskilled migrants from the EU.”
So called ‘unskilled’ migrants from EU countries such as Poland and newer members from Bulgaria and Romania (on which work restrictions are imposed until 2014) might argue that they are often better educated and more highly skilled than the local work force.
The popular Post Study Work (PSW) visa scheme closes on April 5th 2012 and this is the last date that graduates, most of whom will graduate in July, can make an application.
The idea of the PSW and its predessor schemes is that bright graduates would be given a chance to stay on in the UK and find employment.
Hundreds of Immigration Matters readers have posted comments complaining about the sudden withdrawal of PSW when many had invested over £30,000 at UK Universities. Many are also bitter about the date of withdrawal in April when very few of the current years students would have received certificates.
Earlier this week Immigration Matters reported that Under New student visa rules announced, which will take effect in a few weeks time, only graduates who have a job earning more than £20,000 a year from an approved employer may stay in the country after completing their studies.
Graduates with £50,000 to invest in a business may obtain an entrepreneur visa to stay, but in practice it is expected that this will only apply to a small number migrants.
On Tier 4 students from middle eastern and emerging market nations, Mr Walker added: “Other countries welcome such students: Britain makes it difficult and artificially expensive for them to enter, and now proposes to eject them ignominiously when their studies are finished.”
UK Universities support the IoD, as they have resisted attempts to reduce the number of foreign students. These make a substantial contribution to their incomes – 9.6 per cent of the higher education sector’s income in 2009-10 came from fees paid by non-EU students.
The universities are lobbying to have students removed from the migration statistics altogether. But Damian Green, immigration minister, said on Monday: “While many think of students as temporary visitors, around 20 per cent of student arrivals were still in the UK five years later.”
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You could qualify for a Tax refund if you are an overseas student, work permit holder, Tier 1, Yellow or Blue Card – in fact any visa type – even if you are no longer legal or have left the country!