There’s good news for students looking to the UK for higher education, as the British government announced on Wednesday that it was reintroducing the two-year post-study work visa for international students. This will be applicable for students from the 2020-21 academic year onwards.
The two-year post-study work visa was earlier scrapped by then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2012. Following an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, students were given only four months to look for work.
The re-introduction of the visa allows all international students who have valid UK immigration status as a student, and have successfully completed a course of study in any subject at the undergraduate level or above at an approved UK higher education provider, to work or look for work in any career or position of their choice for two years after completing their studies.
"The new Graduate Route will mean talented international students, whether in science and maths or technology and engineering, can study in the UK and then gain valuable work experience as they go on to build successful careers," Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement.
"This is fantastic news for Indian students, who will now be able to spend more time in the UK after completing their degree, allowing them to gain further skills and experience," said Dominic Asquith, British High Commissioner to India.
According to the British High Commission, there are nearly 22,000 Indian students in the UK — an almost 100% increase from three years. According to the Guardian, numbers saw a steep fall after Theresa May’s announcement in 2011-12. In 2010-11, there were over 50,000 Indian students in the UK.
“In addition, 96% of all Indians who apply for a UK visa are successful – meaning the vast majority of those who wish to come to the UK are able to do so,” the High Commission said.
The move to reintroduce the two-year post-study work visa has been welcomed. "The most impacted were Indian students, who repeatedly told us that they needed this post-study work visa for a number of reasons...We therefore were running the post study work visa campaign for the last five plus years and this marks the conclusion of a long and hard battle that has found its due justice,” said Sanam Arora the founder and chairperson of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK to PTI.
Universities in the UK also welcomed the move. "Evidence shows that international students bring significant positive social outcomes to the UK as well as £26bn in economic contributions, but for too long the lack of post-study work opportunities in the UK has put us at a competitive disadvantage in attracting those students,” said Alistair Jarvis, the chief executive of Universities UK to BBC.
The announcement came after the country decided to create a new fast-track visa route for scientists and remove the limit on PhD students moving into the skilled work visa route, as instructed by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The British High Commission said that almost half of all Indian students (almost 130,000 since 2008/9) heading to the UK in the last ten years chose a STEM subject.