After years of campaigning from universities and business, Boris Johnson has announced visa reforms to allow international students to remain for two years to find a job after graduating from university – bringing the UK in line with international competitors.
New proposals bring the UK in line with our international competitors
When it comes to attracting international students to the UK to study, our universities punch way above their weight.
The UK is second only to the US as a destination for overseas students – reflecting the strength and reputation of our world-class higher education sector. Each year, we attract around 450,000 students from outside the UK to come and study, with these students making an enormous economic, social and cultural contribution.
But for years, our approach to post-study work has been out of line with international competitors and acted as a drag on growth for international student numbers. That is why the CBI recently attended parliament to argue for a reformed approach to international students, including extending the period in which students can look for employment after studying.
The proposals to increase the period of time international students can look for work after studying will help bring the UK in line with our international competitors and ensure our universities remain attractive to students looking to study abroad.
The benefits of international students extend well beyond the higher education sector
Today’s announcement will be welcomed by universities and business alike with the benefits that international students bring extending well beyond a university campus.
Overseas students who chose to study in the UK bring a richness of culture and diversity of thought to our education sector, and businesses highly value their unique skills, ideas and life experiences.
Providing more time for international students to stay in the UK to look for work therefore provides UK businesses with a huge competitive advantage as they have the opportunity to benefit from the skills, ideas and talents – which our universities have invested in – to their own advantage.
This is unequivocally good news and sends a clear signal that the UK is open for business. Improving the UK’s post-study work offer will make us an even more attractive destination for global talent – benefiting both universities and businesses alike.— Matthew Fell, Chief UK Policy Director
The CBI will continue our work to make the UK a leading destination for international students
Whilst extending the period to look for work is welcome, there is more the government could do to help our universities compete on the global stage. First and foremost, a streamlined and simplified process is needed for international students when applying to study in the UK.
The current visa application process for non-EU students is complex, burdensome and expensive. For instance, it costs almost £350 in fees – significantly more than many of our competitors such as the USA, Canada and Australia – and the guidance document is over 100 pages long, often requiring professional expertise to navigate successfully.
Government should use the opportunity that leaving the EU presents to design a new system to streamline and simplify the visa application process for all international students (EU and non-EU) to ensure we can continue to grow the number of students opting to study in the UK.