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2015 15 JAN

International Students in the Clear

Theresa May’s support for a plan that would require foreign students to leave the country at the end of their courses has been deemed a short-sighted vote winner which would lead to long-term economic decline. The proposal was based upon the pretext that current UK immigration rules were being abused and should therefore form part of the next Conservative Party manifesto.

Under the current rules, students from outside the EU are eligible for a bridging visa, allowing them to stay in the UK for four months after qualification. If they manage to obtain a graduate job within this time frame, they are then able to transfer from a student visa to a work visa. May’s proposal would have seen non-EU students being forced to leave the UK upon completion of their university course and apply for a job and UK visa from overseas.

However, the plan has now been blocked by leading Tory figures who do not wish to repeat the pledge which was originally part of their 2010 general election manifesto. Their refusal to consider the proposal might also have something to do with the backlash of criticism it has received from educated parties across the UK.

Apart from being called a short-sighted response to the Conservative promise to reduce net migration figures to the tens of thousands by the next election, many have spoken out against the plans to banish ‘economically valuable‘ minds from the UK and highlight how this loss of global talent would harm the UK economy.

Despite the criticism, May continues to defend her position to scrap bridging visas for non-EU students by virtue of the sheer numbers involved. According to her calculations, the UK will see over 600,000 overseas students attending British universities by the year 2020. In opposition, inventor and entrepreneur Sir James Dyson argues that, with the home-grown post-graduate population lying ‘painfully thin’ on the ground, such figures can only be welcomed.


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