Independence: SNP wants foreign students to stay on

John Swinney: encouraging talent. Picture: Neil Hanna
John Swinney: encouraging talent. Picture: Neil Hanna
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FOREIGN students should be encouraged to stay in an independent Scotland after graduation to help boost the economy, the Scottish Government says.

Every 1,000 extra graduates working in Scotland boosts the country’s economy by an estimated £10 million and supports about 200 jobs, it claims.

Finance secretary John Swinney expanded on plans to reintroduce a post-study visa, as outlined in the government’s white paper on independence.

The plan would allow more recent graduates to stay in the country to work or set up a business, retaining skilled and educated graduates as part of the labour force. But Conservatives yesterday said a significantly different immigration policy would require “some kind of Border patrol”.

Swinney said: “We should be encouraging more talented people from around the world to further their education in Scotland, providing income for our education institutions and contributing to the local economy and community diversity.

“It is absurd talented individuals are instead being discouraged from coming to Scotland. Immigration policies decided in Westminster simply do not fit Scotland’s needs, and they are hampering our ability to develop a thriving economy.”

But Tory MSP Alex Johnstone said: “This is another indication that the SNP wants to adopt a drastically different immigration policy than the rest of the UK. If that is the case, it is fairly clear some kind of Border patrol will have to be established in the event of separation.

“It is naive for the Scottish Government to suggest, if policies like this are implemented, that the remaining UK would not view Scotland as a soft entry point for illegal immigrants.”