The newly-proposed student visa scheme aims to extend the allowed time for international students to remain in UK up to one year following their graduation in a bid to increase the country’s attractiveness in the international higher education market.
The UK is the second most popular study destination in the world counting over than 458,000 international students, according to the latest enrollment statistics covering the 2017/18 academic year. However, higher education experts have often raised concerns over a failing of British universities to keep the pace with the fierce global competition, especially after political movements and many uncertainties revolving around Brexit.
Found in the middle of constant pressure from universities in UK, finally, the Government has given signs of a commitment to protect their reputation in the international higher education market and attract more international students in the future.
In a public announcement released on March 16, the Department for Education in UK presented their plan to boost international enrollment.
According to the DfE’s announcement the plan will focus on the following measures:
- Establishing a new International Education Champion to work on further development of international ties with foreign universities and other involved parties.
- Encouraging different groups involved in the higher education sector to invest in the £5 million GREAT Challenge Fund to help promote UK universities in the global market.
- Extending the allowed period of remaining in UK for international students for up to 1 year. Also improving the student visa process and help international students find employment.
- Increase the efficiency of data reporting to enable UK authorities to get a better picture of where the best opportunities lie globally.
- Closer cooperation between government departments in international education policies.
As shown above, one of the measures that will be taken to achieve the targets set out in the plan is the extension of student visa which would enable international students to remain longer in UK following their graduation.
Under the current student visa scheme foreign students can only stay in UK for up to 4 months after graduating which is far from being enough to find a job and get valuable work experience.
On the other hand, the new visa scheme will allow international undergraduate and master students to stay in UK for six months and up to 1 year international doctoral students due to the completion of their studies.
Moreover, this plan foresees additional much-needed professional guidance and assistance for international graduates to be able to navigate job options.
Speaking about the report, the Education Secretary Damian Hinds, among others said:
“The UK’s education system is world-leading and its reputation is the envy of many countries around the globe. As we prepare to leave the EU it is more important than ever to reach out to our global partners and maximize the potential of our best assets – that includes our education offer and the international students this attracts.”
As the report states, the ultimate goal of the British government is to increase the number of international students by 30% until 2030, which would generate a revenue of £35 billion to the national economy and would rank the UK among the most popular study destinations in the world.
As it stands, around 460,000 current international students pursuing degrees either attending university in UK or through transnational education in different campus sites located elsewhere, contribute to £20 billion of the country’s budget. Given that, higher education is the country’s wealthiest sector of export and authorities hope that their operational plan will help them maintain with this in the future.