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UK: Conservatives overthrow plan to make graduates return home

Senior members of the UK’s Conservative party have blocked plans to require international graduates to apply for working visas from their home countries, as outlined last month by Home Secretary Theresa May.

Photo: UK Home Office

Chancellor George Osborne warned the move would damage British universities and businesses

Chancellor George Osborne led the campaign warning that the move would damage British universities and businesses, reported The Financial Times.

“Attracting overseas students to study in Britain is one of the great British successes– we make friends around the world and we earn a lot of money from them”

Just before Christmas, May revealed plans to reduce student migration to zero by requiring all non-EU students to return home after graduation even if they have secured employment within the allotted time frame.

Senior Conservative members told The FT the proposal would not be included in the party’s manifesto for the general election in May.

“We have a policy that international students can stay when they graduate if they find a graduate-level job paying £24,000 a year,” one official said. “That remains the policy.”

Former Universities and Sciences Minister and current Tory MP David Willetts was reportedly part of the group opposing May’s proposal. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme he said he didn’t think the plan was a good idea.

“I’m pleased it’s not going to be Conservative policy in the next election,” he added. “Attracting overseas students to study in Britain is one of the great British successes– we make friends around the world and we earn a lot of money from them.

We have already tightened the rules, they do not need to be tightened further.”

According to the Home Office, graduates must be offered jobs paying £20,500 or more, a policy Willetts argued should be re-examined to distribute foreign talent around the country.

“Getting that kind of money in London or in the Southeast is easier than earning it as your first job in Midlands or the North,” he said.

“This policy has the effect of sucking overseas graduates into London and the Southeast and I personally think we should allow some flexibly with lower wage requirements in other parts of the country.”

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