“In relation to post-study work opportunities, it is important to stress that international students can still get post-study visas in the UK after they graduate. It is incorrect to say that there are no longer any post-study work opportunities for non-EU students finishing their courses in the UK. Although the UK government in 2012 did tighten up the eligibility rules on who can stay on to work after graduation, graduate opportunities still exist for non-EU students to stay on in the UK to get specific graduate-level experience for a period,” says a Universities UK representative.
The first option is the Tier 2 route which requires students to have a graduate job offer and to meet minimum salary requirements. Although these requirements are more stringent than the requirements for the old Tier 1 Post Study Work route, almost 6,000 graduating international students accessed this route in 2014, an increase of 27% from the previous year. “There are also options available under the Tier 5 route which allows non-EU graduates to gain work experience, in the form of training schemes or paid internships, provided they are being paid equivalent to the national minimum wage. Internships are offered by employers as diverse as the Bar Council, BAE Systems and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Take-up of opportunities via this route increased by 45% last year albeit from a low base,” says the representative.
For budding entrepreneurs, there is the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Scheme which allows international graduates with a genuine and credible business idea to start up their own business on graduation. Almost 500 have done so and its popularity is growing with numbers entering this route increasing by 40 per cent between 2013 and 2014. Graduating PhD students also have access to the Doctorate Extension Scheme, which enables them to stay in the UK to seek or pursue employment for up to 12 months on graduation. Over 600 students have taken advantage of the scheme in the two years since its introduction. Similar to the Tier 5 route, there remains much that the sector and government can do to promote this option and ensure prospective students are aware of it.
“The UK continues to possess, by some margin, one of the strongest university systems in the world. We have the second-strongest university system in the world after the US. We excel at a global level in the quality of our research, in the attractiveness of our courses, and in the quality of our graduates. UK universities will continue to be outward looking, internationally linked and welcoming for talented people from across the world,” he adds.
“International undergraduate students rate the UK number one for student satisfaction, ahead of the USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and New Zealand. International students, including those from India, make an enormous contribution to the UK, academically, culturally and economically. This is a growth area. According to UNESCO, around seven million students will be studying outside their home country by 2020. The UK has the potential to be one of the world’s fastest growing destinations for international students building on its current status as the second most popular destination for international students after the US,” he says.