Universities UK has called on the British government to reintroduce a visa that would allow international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have graduated.
In a recent poll from ComRes revealed that 72% of British adults polled believed that international students should be allowed to remain in the UK following their graduation in order to gain work experience.
A similar visa was previously in-force which allowed non-EU students to remain in the UK for up to two years after graduation.
It was scrapped in 2012 by then Home Secretary Theresa May over fears that it had been used by up to 100,000 students as a back-door for immigration.
Between 2016 and 2017, the number of non-UK students studying in the UK was over 442,000 which makes up 19% of all students studying at university in the UK.
China makes up the greatest proportion of non-EU countries sending people to study in the UK with 95,090 students in higher education in 2016-2017.
This figure has steadily increased over four years rising from 87,895 students in 2013-2014.
Earlier this year, the Home Office introduced a more relaxed visa policy for Chinese students who are considered ‘low risk’ to make it easier for potential students to study in the UK. The updated policy included lax financial and language requirements.
Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, said: “We are proposing a new graduate visa that would make the UK more attractive to students and would allow a wider range of employers, in all parts of the UK, to benefit from access to talented graduates from around the world.
“It would send a more welcoming message to international students and signal that the UK is open to talented individuals from around the world.”
Although there are a significant number of international students in UK universities, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are rapidly becoming the go-to countries for international study as they have attractive post-study visa policies.
Currently, international students are able to remain in the UK provided they have a job with a salary of at least £20,800 within four months of graduating, and their employer must possess a Tier 2 sponsorship licence.