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UK post-study work ruling creates confusion, questions on deferring

Questions around eligibility and possibilities for deferment from incoming international students have been an unintended consequence of the UK’s announcement to re-introduce post-study work rights.

Questions around eligibility and possibilities for deferment from incoming international students have been an unintended consequence of the UK's announcement. Photo: Pexels

Whether master's students graduating from a January 2020 start will be eligible is still a grey area

While the UK sector has rejoiced at the PSW news, UKCISA’s chief executive, Anne-Marie Graham, confirmed to The PIE News that their phone hotline has been “inundated” by students wondering if they are eligible and some of those were considering moving their impending September 2019 start date in order to benefit.

“Everybody is thinking they will qualify for PSW [in January]… but we know we need to wait for the legislation”

“[Our] advice line has been inundated with queries of different kinds about how post-study work will apply to them, including some questions about perhaps deferring as well – particularly for one year masters,” said Graham.

“I think we’re seeing a spike in increase for January intake at the moment. So that’s where the queries are coming from.”

She explained that UKCISA – whose members work on the frontline dealing with international student issues and questions – has reached out to its members to ask for data on how many students are actually deferring.

“Without data, it’s just anecdotal at the moment,” she told The PIE.

At present, the government line is that “any student who is set to graduate from summer 2021 onwards should be eligible for post-study work”, confirmed Vivienne Stern at Universities UK International.

Whether those masters’ students graduating from a January 2020 start will be eligible is still a grey area and certainly not assured.

“We are urging the government to implement the new visa route as soon as they can, to ensure that as many current students as possible can benefit,” noted Stern.

“We would also like to see quick implementation of the extension of Tier 4 leave to remain to six months for undergraduates and masters’ students, and one year for PhDs, as previously announced in the International Education Strategy.”

But K C Raj, an education consultant sending high volumes of students to study in the UK from India, told The PIE that he anticipated that a large portion of UK-bound clients had considered deferring, typically until January 2020.

“Everybody is thinking they will qualify for PSW [in January],” he said, “But we, the consultants, know we need to wait for the legislation.”

He estimated that 75% of his UK-bound cohort at KCR Consultants had considered deferring.

Nonetheless, not all universities in the UK have seen such student activity.

At Aston University, Saskia Loer Hanson, pro-vice chancellor international, related, “We have not seen many actual deferrals at Aston.

“We had a significant number of enquiries from PGT students who had accepted an offer for the September start, asking about whether they would qualify for the post-study work visa and expressions of disappointment that they wouldn’t be covered.

“However, very few of these initial enquiries have resulted in subsequent deferrals.”

She continued, “We were concerned that this could have an adverse impact on our September starters, but thankfully it appears to not have had much of an impact. We are now focusing on making the most of the new Graduate Route opportunity for our 2020/21 intake.”

“I fully expect that there will be a number of students who will choose to delay their studies”

One other university commentator, who preferred not to be named, said, “I fully expect that there will be a number of students who will choose to delay their studies until Sept 20.  It will be just as interesting to see which regions are impacted, or whether it’s isolated to South Asia.”

Stern underlined, “We do recognise that some current students set to graduate before 2021 will be disappointed. Our message to them is: there are still options for you that will enable you to stay and work in the UK.

“We would urge you to seek support from your university and to explore the UK Council for International Student Affairs’ website,” she added.

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24 Responses to UK post-study work ruling creates confusion, questions on deferring

  1. I feel this rule is unfair to the current student. Those who took the risk in spite of Brexit overhang are paying the price for tusting the system.

  2. Majority of the current students will benefit from the re-introduction as those who graduate from 2021 summer onwards will qualify for the Post Study Work.

    • i also started my masters in jan 2020 transforming and leading in health care its only for 12month . pls tell me m eligible for psw or not ?

  3. My course expected end date is 4 June 2021 according to the unconditional offer letter so can I eligible for psw or not???

  4. I have a bad feeling that this psw improvement is more about attracting students than actually being fair. Also its not gonna do any good, students are not allowed to work after official end of program so even if they can stay for 2 more years, they better have enough money to pay the rent. Seriously, it does not matter what the UK gov chooses to do at the moment, the system can no longer be trusted with a lot of money. I still think this policy is just to attract students and what ia the guarantee that the policy will remain and not change after 6 months?

  5. I will finish my course in January 2021 and my visa expires in may 2021 after the new rule will I be eligible for psw.

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