Report recommends UK does not scrap graduate visa route

LONDON: Indian student representative bodies breathed a huge sigh of relief after an independent rapid review of the graduate visa route by the UK govt’s immigration advisers published Tuesday recommended that the visa, which allows international students to work or look for work in the UK for two years after they graduate, should not be scrapped.This came after a separate report by two Tory MPs published on a think tank’s website last week had called for the route to be axed to bring down net migration figures .The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) found there was no evidence of significant abuse of the route but there were concerns about mis-selling of UK higher education by some international recruitment agents.India accounted for 42% of the 114,000 graduate visas issued in 2023, making them the largest cohort.The report, commissioned by the UK govt, found that restrictions introduced in Jan 2024 preventing those on taught master’s programmes from bringing dependents “has already substantially contributed to reduced international student recruitment for September 2024”. Early indications suggest a 63% reduction in the number of deposits paid for the Sept 2024 intake by international postgraduate applications compared to the previous year. Deposits by Indians are down 69%.The report concluded the route should continue in current form as numbers are already in decline and new salary thresholds that came into force in April for the skilled worker visa could make them fall further.It warned that closure of the route or further restrictions could “put many universities at financial risk” and lead to job losses, course closures, a reduction in research, and some universities would collapse as they rely on international student fees to cross-subsidise domestic students and research.It recommends that the govt establish a mandatory registration system for international recruitment agents; that universities are compelled to publish data on how much they spend on such agents and on the number of students recruited through such means; and that universities supply the home office with the class of degree obtained.Govt said it would consider the review and respond in due course.Vignesh Karthik, head of thought leadership at National Indian Students and Alumni Union, said: “The uncertainty caused by the review has been chaotic. We urge the govt to accept the MAC’s findings.”Amit Tiwari, president of the Indian National Students Association UK, said he welcomed the review as it “emphasises data over rhetoric”.

Source:The Times

May 15, 2024 06:46 UTC

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