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Universities Scotland: cost of PSW loss £250m

The loss of the UK’s two year post-study work visa has cost the Scottish economy over £250m since the programme ended in 2012, Universities Scotland has said. Scotland’s First Minister has also publicly called for the reinstatement of the Tier 1 visa allowing students to work after graduation for the first time.

For the first time, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for the reinstatement of post-study work. Photo:  Flickr/Ewan McIntosh.For the first time, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for the reinstatement of post-study work. Photo: Flickr/Ewan McIntosh.

"I believe there is a consensus in this parliament to reintroduce the post-study work visa – and I think it’s time the UK government got on and did it”

In a paper released this month, Universities Scotland estimated that 5,400 fewer international students have come into the country in the last three years than if the Tier 1 route had stayed in place.

“Scottish universities need action from government to improve its post-study work offer. We are losing out in key markets”

Growth in international student numbers has fallen to 2% annually in the last three years, from 6% in the three years preceding the visa curtailment, the report states, resulting in 5,400 fewer international students coming into Scotland.

And the number of incoming students from India and Nigeria, two of Scotland’s key source markets, also fell by 1,275 or more than a quarter in that time, which the report attributes to the loss of post-study work rights.

The report calculates that Scotland has lost out on £145.7m in revenue as a result of this fall in students from Nigeria and India, and a further £108.6m due to slowing growth in international student numbers.

These figures are based on an estimated annual average revenue of £13,200 in tuition fees and £6,400 in off-campus expenditure per student.

The report says, however, this is a “conservative estimate” as the average spend was calculated in 2010, adding: “It is reasonable to assume that this has increased in this period as the cost of living has increased.”

“Scottish universities need action from government to improve its post-study work offer,” commented Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland. “We are losing out in key markets as our competitors take steps to attract more international student talent.”

The publication of the document follows Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s assertion that Scottish ministers are “deeply disappointed” that the UK government has no plans to reintroduce post-study work.

“I believe there is a consensus in this parliament and out there in Scotland to reintroduce the post-study work visa – and I think it’s time the UK government got on and did it,” she said.

The announcement was Sturgeon’s first public comment on the issue, after a Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell confirmed that the government does not plan to reinstate the visa.

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