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Mayor of London calls for new post-study work visa

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has proposed a new post-study work visa for international students, criticising the changes made to the UK visa system by PM Theresa May when she was Home Secretary.

Photo: Mayor of London's Press Office

90% of Indian students now apply to the UK’s universities - rather than FE colleges

The proposals are part of his calls for a fair and flexible immigration system that he claims would attract talent from the world to come to London with “fewer barriers and less red tape”, and were made during a visit to Pakistan and India.

“[The government] is in danger of starving my city of great talent”

He said he wants to make it easier for students to be able to remain in the UK after graduation and work, following the Government’s decision to close the previous Tier 1 post-study work route.

“The British prime minister, Theresa May got it badly wrong with her decision to close this route a few years ago,” Khan told an audience of senior Indian business leaders in Mumbai.

“It’s not only led to a substantial drop in Indian students coming to our universities, it’s in danger of starving my city of great talent.”

Earlier this year, The PIE News reported that Indian student enrolments in the UK had plummeted 44% between 2011/12 and to 2015/16, from 29,900 to 16,745, according to figures from HESA.

Khan is currently on a trade mission to India and Pakistan to foster and forge relationships, while promoting his #LondonIsOpen campaign.

A Home Office spokesperson told The PIE News that the British government wants to deter fraudulent visa applications, which was widespread under the former post-study work visas.

“The Government recognises how important our immigration system is in ensuring that the UK is a place where talent thrives, and we are committed to creating an immigration system which best serves the people and businesses of the UK. 

“Any post-study provisions must strike a careful balance between providing competitive options for the brightest graduates from around the globe to remain in the UK to work, whilst maintaining safeguards against the type of widespread abuse that was seen under former post-study work schemes.”

Reforms made to Tier 4 since 2010, including the closure of 900 bogus colleges, has led to a shift in the British institutions where Indian students study.

Around 90% of Indian students now apply to the UK’s universities – rather than further education colleges or other types of institution – compared to 50% in 2010, according to Home Office figures.

The mayor is one of a number of high-profile individuals who have called for more post-study work visas.

Vivienne Stern director of Universities UK International spoke of their importance following Brexit and David Willetts voiced support the liberalisation of post-study visas in an interview with The PIE News last week.

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