Scottish report calls for immigration policy change

A NEW Scottish report has challenged Home Secretary Theresa May’s plan to prevent international students from staying in the UK after they graduate.

The report called for the reintroduction of post-study work visas in Scotland. Picture: PA
The report called for the reintroduction of post-study work visas in Scotland. Picture: PA

The report, by a broad coalition of busin­ess, education and student chiefs, has instead called for the reintroduction of post-study work visas in Scotland to allow international students to stay an extra year.

The report comes as Tory UK ministers have targeted student numbers amid concerns over the level of immigration, with Prime Minister David Cameron failing to keep his promise to keep it down to the “tens of thousands”.

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The idea has already been criticised by VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead and there are fears Scottish firms are missing out on the cream of international talent who come to study in the country.

The Post Study Work working group is recommending that international students on higher education courses at colleges and universities should be able to apply for a new visa to remain in Scotland to work for two years after graduation. The group says an absolute minimum of 12 months should be granted.

Under current rules, students from outside the EU are only allowed to stay in Britain for four months at the end of their courses. If they get graduate jobs, they can switch from student visas to work visas.

Howard McKenzie, a fellow of the Institute of Dir­ectors, said: “Unlike other areas of the UK, Scotland needs to attract talented skilled workers to fuel its economic growth and sustain its wealth-creating businesses.”

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