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MSPs call on UK government to reinstate post-study work visa

MSPs on Holyrood's devolution committee have called on the UK government to bring back post-study visas north of the border.

The visas, allowing international students to stay in Scotland to work after graduating, were dropped in 2012.

The Home Office has said there are "no plans" to bring them back, although Scottish Secretary David Mundell said he would listen to concerns.

All of Holyrood's parties support bringing back the visas.

The committee took evidence from universities and graduates on the impact of the visas being withdrawn, and said more than £250m had been lost to the Scottish economy since 2012.

Edinburgh University warned of a "brain drain of global talent" caused by top talent moving away from Scotland after graduation.

In their report, members unanimously recommended that Home Office immigration minister James Brokenshire come to Holyrood to explain what evidence the UK government would need to bring about a change in policy.

'World-class talent'

Committee convener Bruce Crawford said there was a "clear consensus" between Scotland's political parties and colleges, universities and businesses.

He said: "The committee considers there is robust evidence that identifies the decision to remove the post-study work visa scheme as a major factor in the Scottish education sector falling behind competitor countries in attracting international students.

"As a direct result of this policy, domestic business is being deprived of world-class talent that's trained and developed in Scotland. Given the demographic profile of Scotland, that's a position we can ill-afford.

"We need talented graduates to be able to stay on in Scotland so that we can grow our economy and grow our economically active population."

The Home Office has previously said there were "no plans" to bring back the visas, saying the old system "undermined the UK's work migration routes and damaged the reputation of our education system".

Appearing before the Scottish Affairs Committee after MSPs voiced concerns with this position, Mr Mundell said the UK government was open to "reasonable suggestions".


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