The Scottish government contends that Westminster’s “aggressive approach” to immigration does not serve Scotland’s interests
The visa, which would allow graduates to work or set up a business in the UK for 24 months after completing their studies, was stopped in April 2012 by the UK’s coalition government. Currently, international students completing a course of 12 months or longer study under the Tier 4 visa, which expires four months after their course completion date.
The UK’s Immigration Minister Damien Green said in February 2012 that the regulations would “cut abuse of the student visa route and ensure only the brightest and the best students can stay and work in the UK”.
However, the Scottish government contends that Westminster’s “aggressive approach” to immigration does not serve Scotland’s interests.
Historically, Scotland’s population has grown more slowly than that of the rest of the UK, and recent figures indicate that Scotland’s workforce will grow at a lower rate. As such, the white paper notes that “Scotland has a clear economic rationale for growing [its] population – in particular [its] working age population”.
“This visa will encourage more talented people from around the world to further their education in Scotland, providing income for Scotland’s education institutions and contributing to the local economy and community diversity,” it argues.
According to the white paper, the re-introduction of the post-work study visa would help Scotland to achieve its Government Economic Strategy target “to match average European (EU-15) population growth over the period from 2007 to 2017, supported by increased healthy life expectancy in Scotland over this period”.
There are over 30,000 international students from over 150 countries at Scotland’s 15 universities and specialist HEIs. EU students make up around 11.3% of the total student population, with a further 10.1% from other parts of the world.