Post-Study Work Visa: Scotland may hold the key
Posted on June 17, 2015
The Scottish National Party, which won a landslide 56 seats from Scotland in the UK elections and is now the third-largest party in the British lower house of Parliament, is urging the UK government to reintroduce the post-study work visa for non-EU overseas students.
A group, which includes representatives of all major political parties in Scotland, has been set up to work towards the reintroduction, with Scottish minister for Europe and international development Humza Yousaf leading the effort to look at how the visa can best work in Scotland. The post-study work visa, which was abolished by the UK government in 2012, allowed international students to remain in the UK for two years after graduating from a UK university, and had a track record of attracting and retaining world-class talent to Scotland.
Now a cross-party group is taking forward the work of the post-study work working group, formed in August last year, which recommended the visa be reintroduced in a report issued in March this year. To start with, Mr Yousaf last week wrote to James Brokenshire, the UK immigration minister, again calling on him to take Scotland’s needs into account and drawing his attention to the cross-party support this issue has in the Scottish Parliament.
“I have, once again, written to the UK government, asking them to work constructively with the Scottish government and our stakeholders in Scotland’s best interests and allow us to reintroduce the post-study work visa,” Mr Yousaf said last week.
In an email response to ET, Mr Yousaf said: “The Scottish government opposed the closure of the post-study work visa and we have consistently argued for its reintroduction. The post-study work route has strong cross-sectoral and cross-party support in Scotland. It is an important lever for attracting the brightest and best international student talent, ensuring global competitiveness and securing essential income streams for Scottish higher education institutions and colleges.” The minister added that he was working with the UK government to explore all possible avenues regarding the re-introduction of a post-study work route as soon as possible in Scotland.
Scotland had first introduced the Fresh Talent – Working in Scotland Scheme, which was later subsumed into the UK-wide Tier-1 post-study immigration route, under which 3,000 Indian graduates remained in Scotland post-study, working under a dedicated Scottish visa.
“Scotland had introduced this scheme as far back as 2005 and the rest of the UK followed. So, there’s no reason why they may not start it again even if the rest of UK doesn’t do it,” said Karan Bilimoria, founder of Cobra Beer and the chancellor of the University of Birmingham. He, however, warned that there may be difficulties since immigration laws will have to be uniform for the whole country.
“So far, the UK government is not seen to be easing its immigration policy and international students are still being included in the stringent targets that the government seems to have set. If Scotland reintroduces the poststudy work visa both Indian and other international students and the Scottish universities will benefit,” added Bilimoria, who has been critical of the Conservative government’s immigration policies, which, according to him, are damaging to UK’s universities and businesses.
Minister Yousaf believes that the post-study work visa will help Scotland grow the workingage population to support and strengthen the economy.
“Scotland must be able to attract and retain world-class talent to fill vacancies which cannot be filled by our resident workers. A post-study work visa is an important lever that would help us attract the best international student talent, securing essential income streams and allowing talented graduates to continue contributing to Scotland after their studies end,” he said.