Source : The Times of India, Last updated : 11 Sep 2019,5:51 am

Indian students will be allowed to stay in UK for two years after graduating

Indian students will be allowed to stay in UK for two years after graduating
LONDON: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the return of the two-year post-study work visa for international students in a move that will impact thousands of Indian students.

The new immigration route announced on Wednesday will mean Indian graduates in any subject will once again be able to stay in the UK for two years to find work after they graduate. Currently, most international students reading bachelor’s and master’s degrees can stay and work for only four months and those at 27 universities on a pilot scheme get six months.

The new immigration route will be available to international students who have successfully completed a course in any subject at undergraduate level or higher level at a Higher Education Provider which has a proven track record in upholding immigration checks and other rules on studying in the UK. Students will need to have Tier 4 leave at the point the route is introduced. This includes students who start courses in 2020/21 at undergraduate level or above.

The new route enables eligible students to work or look for work, at any skill level, for two years after they graduate before needing to convert to another visa or having to leave the country. It goes much further than the immigration white paper published last December which had just proposed the increase four to six months for those on bachelor's or master's degrees and to one year for those reading PhDs.

There will be no cap on the number of students who can apply for the new graduate route.

In 2011 Theresa May, when home secretary, abolished the two-year post-study work visa that had made Britain an attractive place for Indian students.

That led to a 55 per cent drop in Indian student numbers coming to Britain from 51,218 in 2010 – 2011 to 22,757 in 2011-2012. It went down further to 15, 388 in 2017-2018. Last year it increased to 21,881.
“We are absolutely delighted the two-year post-study work visa has been reinstated,” said founder and chairperson of the National Indian Students & Alumni Union UK (NISAU) Sanam Arora. “We have been campaigning for this for six years and express our gratitude to Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Jo Johnson.”

With just a four to six months work permit, employers were reluctant to offer international students jobs whereas two years is much more attractive to them, she said. “Students from India are very well-educated and they come to the UK looking for international work experience that will enable them to stand apart in the global and Indian jobs market. Plus India has high unemployment right now so it is not surprising they are looking for good employment opportunities,” she said. For many Indians working in the UK helped them pay off loans they had borrowed to fund their studies.

She said she hoped the visa would not be a completely open visa like it was before and have slightly tougher conditions to “stop people skimming around”.

“Their presence benefits Britain, which is why we’ve increased the period of time these students can remain in the UK after their studies. Our universities thrive on being open global institutions,” said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The important contribution international students make to our country and universities is both cultural and economic.”

"Not only will a wide range of employers now have access to talented graduates from around the world, but these students also hold lifelong links,” said Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK. “Evidence shows that international students bring significant positive social outcomes to the UK as well as £26 billion in economic contributions, but for too long the lack of post-study work opportunities in the UK has put us at a competitive disadvantage in attracting those students. The introduction of a two-year post-study work visa is something Universities UK has long campaigned for and we strongly welcome this policy change, which will put us back where we belong as a first choice study destination."
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