The Government may have got it right on student visas


By Dr Mohammad Ali Wasm

In my blog in 2019 (https://blogs.staffs.ac.uk/business/2019/10/28/the-return-of-the-post-study-work-visa/) I evaluated the potential of the return of the post study work visa.

Image: https://interfacealliances.com/uk-restores-two-year-post-study-work-visas/

Despite the lag in the uptake of the scheme due to the pandemic, student numbers have started to pick up significantly and we see a shift in postgraduate numbers from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and other countries. The undergraduate enrolment went up by almost 24.1% from the year 2016/17 and only about 5% from 2019/20 and postgraduate about 13.08% from 2019/20.

Image: https://erudera.com/statistics/uk/uk-international-student-statistics/

The postgraduate increase is mainly because the route is more beneficial because of a shorter time frame to completion compared the undergraduate route. Furthermore, many students prefer to get an undergraduate degree from their own country and then add more value through an international postgraduate degree.

The implications of this influx of international students could be many. On the one hand it would boost the financial benefit for the universities post pandemic . In addition, it will create more employment opportunities at the universities as the student numbers cannot be managed with existing staff. The labour market will benefit as well from the part time work being offered by these students to cater to their living costs. The value addition for the UK economy as planned by the reopening of the Post study work visa regime would be a qualified workforce which would not only contribute but also fill the gap which was created in the workforce post Brexit.

The government needs to ensure that the scheme runs for a few years as cutting it short may result in a negative impact as was the case when the scheme was abolished in 2012.

Image: https://supplywell.co.uk/cost-of-living-crisis/

Given the current cost of living crisis, and as most of these international students have to face significant visa and other costs with their move to the UK. Only time will tell whether the full benefit of the scheme is captured.

Ali Wasim teaches a number of courses in the business school including the Apprenticeship programs CMDA and ODMA.  

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