International students are to be given extensions to their visas of up to a year in order to look for work in the UK.
This comes as part of a package of government measures to boost the number of overseas students in British universities after Brexit.
This proposed extension is a move away from current policy whereby students are granted a stay of four months after graduation. Announcing the strategy, the Department for Education said, ‘There is no limit on the number of international students that can study in the UK, and to ensure the UK continues to attract and welcome them, the post-study leave period will be extended to six months for undergraduate and master’s students, and a year for doctoral students’.
Furthermore, the announcement stated ‘how the visa process could be improved for applicants and supporting student employment’, hinting at another possible change in policy.
In addition to the extended visas, the Department for International Trade are to present an international education strategy that aims to increase the population of overseas students in UK higher education by 30 percent over the next decade.
This would raise the number of non-UK students in British universities from 460,000 (140,000 from the EU) to 600,000 by 2030. Critics have pointed out that this is an ambitious target considering EU students will face higher tuition fees and potentially lose access to student loans after Brexit.
Ministers Damian Hinds and Liam Fox claim that the benefits will go further than financial gain stating, ‘the bonds formed through time spent at our world-class institutions can act as a form of soft power extending the UK’s reach and influence at a global level’. It is estimated that these visa extensions will boost the economy by £35 billion a year.