• Monday, June 24, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Migrant graduates to face annual English tests to stay in UK

Pending Cabinet approval, this policy aims to bolster the Graduate Route’s criteria. Institutions with high dropout rates may lose the ability to recruit international students.

Sunak is particularly concerned about universities offering “low-quality” postgraduate courses to foreign students. (Representational image from iStock)

By: Vivek Mishra

Migrant graduates on the Graduate Route visa in the UK may soon face annual English tests under a new proposal by the government. This scheme permits international students to work in the UK for two years post-graduation.

Pending Cabinet approval, this policy aims to bolster the Graduate Route’s criteria. Institutions with high dropout rates may lose the ability to recruit international students. Additionally, the Home Office plans to clamp down on recruitment agents placing foreign students in low-paying jobs below the minimum wage, as per the Daily Mail.

A government source informed The Sun that the revised scheme seeks to attract only the “best and brightest” to the UK.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak contemplates banning British universities from enrolling foreign students in “low-quality” postgraduate courses as part of a broader immigration control effort. There are concerns that such courses serve as a backdoor entry into the UK.

Despite a decrease in net immigration from its peak, numbers remain significantly higher than those at the 2019 election, where the Conservatives vowed to reduce them.

Sunak is particularly concerned about universities offering “low-quality” postgraduate courses to foreign students. Government sources cite HM Revenue and Customs data, indicating that 41 per cent of visa-using graduates earn less than £15,000, according to the Daily Mail.

Potential rule tightening may face opposition from senior Cabinet ministers and universities, which heavily rely on the higher fees paid by international students.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt stated on Friday that current changes to immigration rules are already reducing immigration, implying further restrictions on student numbers may be unnecessary, as reported by The Sun. He pledged Government support for “sustainable increases in international students coming to the UK.”

Education secretary Gillian Keegan opposes banning foreign students from lower quality postgraduate courses, asserting, “This can’t all be about PPEs from Oxford.”

Earlier, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended continuing the scheme, finding no abuse of the post-study work offer. The committee noted that Indians accounted for 42 per cent of visas from 2021 to 2023 and would be most affected by any restrictions.

On Tuesday, universities and Indian student groups urged Sunak to maintain the country’s post-study visa offer. Nearly 30 university vice-chancellors and the National Indian Students and Alumni Association (NISAU) UK sent letters to 10 Downing Street.

They underscored the benefits of retaining the Graduate Route visa scheme, highlighting its economic advantages and the role of international students in enhancing the UK’s global educational competitiveness.

“The modelling by consultancy London Economics shows that a single cohort has a net economic benefit of GBP 37 billion to the UK economy, as well as through the soft power that Britain’s international graduates generate for the country over time, including through furthering ties of trade and diplomacy,” read the NISAU UK letter to Sunak.

Universities from northern England, including Sunderland, Sheffield, Leeds, Lancaster, Liverpool, Teesside, Bradford, Huddersfield, York, and Newcastle, warned that removing or reducing this visa would harm their institutions, reported PTI.

Related Stories

Videos

Mrunal Thakur on Dhamaka, experience of working with Kartik Aaryan,…
Nushrratt Bharuccha on Chhorii, pressure of comparison with Lapachhapi, upcoming…
Abhimanyu Dassani on Meenakshi Sundareshwar, how his mom Bhagyashree reacted…