A survey has found that Scots want international students to find jobs in the UK rather than return to their home countries upon graduation.
According to the poll, 83 per cent of respondents in Scotland agreed it was better students from overseas used their skills in the UK for a period of time rather than returning home immediately – therefore contributing to the economy.
Five years ago, the post-study work visa was removed by the UK government, which had allowed overseas students to work for two years in this country after graduating. The Scottish Government has called for its reintroduction.
The two-year facility would indeed be welcome in Scotland, given the need for economic growth, and the associated need for an increased labour force to achieve that growth.
But we have to distinguish between giving overseas that opportunity, and making them stay because we feel that having benefited from an education in Scotland, they have an obligation to help the Scottish economy.
Whether an overseas student stays – on a reintroduced visa arrangement - or returns home should be a matter of choice for the individual. Attending a Scottish university should not leave any student with an obligation to repay a debt to the nation. And,of course, overseas students will have already made a significant contribution to the Scottish economy through the payment of significant tuition fees.
Requiring students to stay beyond graduation would make Scotland a less attractive place to study, and numbers would drop – hitting the revenue that helps to make Scottish universities successful in the first place.