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Graduate Visa Route to Stay: What This Means for Students in the UK

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International students seeking to work in the UK after graduation can breathe a sigh of relief. The UK government’s immigration advisors, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), recently recommended retaining the popular Graduate visa route.

This decision, announced on Tuesday, comes as a relief to many international students who can now continue to work or seek employment in the UK for up to two years post-graduation.

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What is the Graduate Visa Route?

The Graduate Visa Route allows international students who have completed a degree at a UK university to stay in the UK for two years (three years for PhD graduates) to work or look for work at any skill level, providing them valuable post-study employment opportunities and experience.

Migration Advisory Committee’s Review

The MAC’s recent report dismissed previous calls for the abolition of the graduate visa route, citing a lack of substantial evidence indicating abuse of the system. However, the committee did express concerns about the potential misrepresentation of UK higher education by some international recruitment agents.

Also Read: 10 Countries Where International Students Can Easily Obtain Work Permits

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India Tops Beneficiaries

India is the biggest user of the Graduate visa route, with a whopping 42% of the 114,000 visas issued in 2023 going to Indian students. This program offers valuable work experience for recent graduates and helps them transition into the UK workforce.

Recent Restrictions Cause Decline

However, the report also highlighted the negative impact of stricter immigration rules implemented in January 2024. These changes have resulted in a significant drop in international student applications for the upcoming September 2024 intake.

Early figures show a concerning 63% decrease in deposits paid by international postgraduate applicants, with Indian students experiencing an even steeper decline of 69%.

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Addressing Misinformation

The MAC did raise concerns about some international recruitment agents potentially misrepresenting UK higher education. To address this, the report proposes several recommendations, including:

  • Mandatory Registration System: Establishing a mandatory registration system for international recruitment agents.
  • Transparency in Recruitment: Requiring universities to publish data on their expenditure on recruitment agents and the number of students recruited through these channels.
  • Degree Classification Reporting: Mandating the provision of data on the class of degree obtained by students to the Home Office.

Government’s Response

The UK government has committed to reviewing these recommendations and has pledged to respond in due course. This commitment underscores the government’s ongoing efforts to balance immigration policies while supporting the international student community.

Also Read: 5 Key Visa Rule Changes Every International Student Should Know!

Conclusion

The MAC’s recommendation to retain the graduate visa route is a positive development for Indian students aspiring to study and work in the UK.

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With the government reviewing further measures to ensure the integrity and transparency of international student recruitment, the future looks promising for maintaining the UK’s appeal as a top destination for higher education.


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