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UK talent visa “exclusionary” to some regions

The UK yesterday opened its new “high-potential” visa route for graduates of the top-ranked universities worldwide, but it has attracted criticism for not including any African, Latin American or Caribbean institutions. 

The new route is part of the government’s move towards a “points-based” immigration system. Photo: Unsplash.

The list includes institutions from the USA, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Singapore, France, China, Australia and Germany. 

Graduates from eligible universities who have been awarded a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the last five years can apply for the two-year work visa without a prior job offer, while PhD holders can apply for a three-year visa. 

The list for degrees awarded between November 2021 and October 2022 includes institutions from the USA, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Singapore, France, China, Australia and Germany. 

The new route is part of the UK government’s move towards a “points-based” immigration system, which UK home secretary Priti Patel said “puts talent and ability first”. 

“It will offer the UK an injection of some of the brightest minds in the world”

Some universities and stakeholders have welcomed the scheme.

“This is a great opportunity for graduates from the world’s top universities to work in the UK. It will offer the UK an injection of some of the brightest minds in the world and will help encourage diversity in the workforce,” said Simon Andrews, chief operating officer of Studee, a search portal for international students. 

A spokesperson from Swiss university EPFL, which features on the 2021 list, told The PIE News that the scheme will “help create new synergies between Switzerland and the UK, as well as reinforce ongoing scientific collaboration”.

Anna-Lena Paulsson, head of international relations at Swedish medical university The Karolinska Institutet, which also made the list, said that the scheme means there are “more doors open for graduates from KI”. 

“In the short term, we don’t think that this list will affect the application numbers to a greater extent, but in the long run it may very well increase interest in studying at KI.”

But the new route has been criticised for failing to include any institutions from Africa, Latin America or the Caribbean. 

Writing on Twitter, UK charity Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said: “This discrimination must stop. It’s time for an accessible, affordable system based in humanity.”

To be included, institutions have to be ranked in the top 50 of two out of three renowned ranking systems – Times Higher Education World University rankings, Quacquarelli Symonds World University rankings, and The Academic Ranking of the World Universities.

“It would be great to see this scheme expanded further in the future to include more universities and encourage further international collaboration,” said Andrews. 

“All eyes will be on the university ranking tables to see which institutions will continue to hit the high standards and which graduates will get the option of moving to the UK.”

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