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UK home secretary calls for post-study work restrictions to be lifted

UK home secretary Sajid Javid has called for prime minister Theresa May’s post-study work restrictions on international students to be lifted, arguing that the six-month limit undermines Britain’s universities and harms the country’s search for global talent.

Javid said he would make Johnson’s clause for international students to have the right to stay on for two years "government policy". Photo: Alessio Cesario/Pexels

Javid said he backed a cross-party move to liberalise the student visa regime led by former universities minister Jo Johnson.

In an article published by the Financial Times, Javid – a contender for the Conservative party leadership –  said he backed a cross-party move to liberalise the student visa regime led by former universities minister Jo Johnson.

Javid’s intervention was welcomed by Johnson, who had tabled an amendment to the government’s Immigration Bill in April, calling for a two-year post-study work visa option for international students.

“It makes no sense to send some of the world’s brightest people straight home after their time here”

Prior to 2012, international students could stay and work in the UK for two years after graduation until May (then home secretary) began a clampdown on immigration, capping PSW time at four months.

As a result, the number of Indian students attending UK universities underwent a dramatic decline, from just under 30,000 in 2011-12 to just over 16,000 in 2016-17.

Earlier this year, the government accepted recommendations for PSW to be extended to six months for undergraduate and master’s students and a year for PhD students, however, some stakeholders argued that such a short extension was unlikely to “significantly increase interest”.

Writing in the FT, Javid said if he succeeded May as prime minister he would make Johnson’s clause for international students to have the right to stay on to work for two years “government policy”.

“It makes no sense to send some of the world’s brightest and most enterprising people straight home after their time here,” he wrote.

“So as prime minister I would make Mr Johnson’s plan government policy.

“I want to put skilled Britons in the same room as bright Europeans and those from other nations — in Manchester, Leeds and London, not Paris or Stockholm,” he added.

Javid’s comments received widespread support within the sector, with UKCISA chief executive Anne Marie Graham describing them as “a tremendous step forward for international students in the UK”.

“[It] will contribute to the successful delivery of the International Education Strategy. I’m very grateful to Jo Johnson and Paul Blomfield for their work to achieve cross-party support for this important amendment,” she said in a statement.

Others took to social media to express their views on the home secretary’s comments:

Chief executive of Universities UK Alistair Jarvis said such a change in policy would “correct a longstanding policy barrier to growth in international student numbers”.

“Growth in international enrolments in the UK has stagnated compared to our competitors, largely due to the uncompetitive visa offer,” he said.

“This must change if we are to…remain a leading destination for overseas talent.”

“This change, a long time coming, matters for the whole of the country and not just for universities”

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute added: “This is fantastic news. The home secretary has seen, not least during his time as business secretary, how much harm the current rules are doing.”

An analysis published earlier in 2019 revealed the UK’s limitations on PSW cost the treasury £150 million each year in foregone receipts, amounting to just over £1bn since the restrictions were introduced in 2012.

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16 Responses to UK home secretary calls for post-study work restrictions to be lifted

  1. This would be a massive credited impacted change for the current prime minister and he wouldn’t be forgotten my the majority. This has been a long awaited change for intentional student in the UK.

    • hi i am new to uk spend few months in here i am a master student when this will be in existence any body knows abou PSW after graduation from which date it will happen please any one has idea please let me know thank you ,

  2. Thanks for the amendment once again to government of UK and all delegates who made it happened. I just want to confirm that from when it is going to come in existence as there is confusion in lot of people and students. Whether it will be applicable to the students who are currently staying and studying in UK universities or for the ones who is coming newly to UK

  3. What a great step by Jo Johnson and the supporters. We need to be more open to International Students. Hope this gets approved immediately

  4. Will it be valid for the current students as well ?
    As I am on Tier 4 visa and have the extension of 6 months only .

  5. The re-introduction of Post study work visa has been the news for a long-time, until today nothing has been granted or applied. So we would request the UK government to act first then speak. Otherwise you can see that there will be a downfall of International students coming into UK. And it in-turn will affect the education sector and economy of the UK.

  6. This is indeed a welcome development and of great blessings to humanity concerned. The post – study work restriction law amendment would not only be beneficial to the international students alone, but also to the nation in some respects such as economic development. Thanks to the initiators and supporters of the bill.

  7. Please, how can I apply for this 6 months post study visa? I just completed my BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance with 2.1 and my gradation is in 12/09/2019 and current Tier 4 visa would expired by 30/09/2019. Thank you.

  8. When does this come into effect and if it does, will current students benefit from it. Or is this all talk and no action.

  9. Oh great 6 months wow I would get so many great jobs in 6 MONTHS. Coming to UK for great work experience was a huge mistake. Look at other countries offering at least 2 years of post-study work visa option. UK would never compete them.

  10. Brilliant student comes to UK for higher study and they enrich knowledge , the UK government should make use of them by allowing them to work and tax them promptly for the development of UK , believe New PM will bring the change soon!

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