International Student Visas have sparked a great deal of debate in the North East since the post study option was abolished in 2012. Currently, students who have come from outside of the EU are only given 4 months after their education to secure a Tier 2 graduate job, which translates as needing an employer sponsorship and a minimum salary of £20,800. This can be extremely difficult to achieve as supported by BBC Politics Live that said, ‘40% of citizens fall below this threshold.’ Therefore, some improved plans have been brought to light which could massively impact the work opportunities of international students, as well as making a difference to the economy and environment of the North East.
In the latest proposals, the suggestion is that universities could sponsor graduates in finding work experience in the UK. This would be over the course of 2 years, allowing a more reasonable time frame for international students, who have invested and chosen to study in the UK. Due to the current laws, the number of visas transferred after education has had a drastic 87% drop following the 2012 changes.
A recent poll was carried out with 4301 British adults asking whether international students should be able to stay in the UK. Although only a small sample, 72% supported a change where overseas students could have one or more years of work experience. As well as the recent poll, Newcastle University Vice Chancellor, Chris Day commented, ‘International Students are an integral part of cultural, academic, and social make up of Newcastle.’ Furthermore, Northumbria University chancellor Andrew Wathey said ‘it will boost economic growth and skills in the area and help build links across the world.’ The consent from both university chancellors suggests an improvement to post study visas should be a key consideration for the future, especially in changing the economy and business culture in the North East area.
After speaking to an international first year, I discovered her opinions on the matter: ‘I weighed up the advantages of studying in the US compared to the UK and was more impressed with their education system – to have personal tutors that can support me through my degree is a huge benefit, however in the back of my mind it will always be a worry as to where I will end up when I come out of my four year course.’ Despite this opinion, the US has had an increased intake of 40% of internationals per annum compared to the UK which has increased by only 3%.
Students who have chosen to study in the UK should not be given the added pressure of finding a sponsor, while also completing their further education It may be that if an improvement isn’t made to the International Visa laws, overseas students will potentially be put off from coming to study here at all. With Brexit looming, the country should be doing its upmost to welcome global talent and keep strong connections with students and businesses from overseas.