Expansion of post study work provisions for highly skilled students

On 18 December the government announced its intention to expand a pilot scheme for highly skilled students, which will give them an opportunity to remain in the UK for up to six months once they have completed their studies.

Our earlier news alert on 24 November looked at the government’s intention to expand this pilot scheme to further compliant universities.

The pilot is currently streamlining the process for international Masters students undertaking a course of 13 months or less in the UK and has been running since July 2016 at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and Imperial College London. It also provides greater support for students who wish to switch to a work visa and take up a graduate role, by allowing them to remain in the UK for 6 months after they have finished their course.

Universities taking part are given responsibility for eligibility checks, meaning that students can submit fewer documents than required in the current process alongside their visa applications.

The 23 universities to be added to the pilot are:

  • Cardiff University
  • Goldsmiths University of London
  • Harper Adams University
  • Newcastle University
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
  • University of Bristol
  • Durham University
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Essex
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Leicester
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Reading
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Wales Trinity St. David (Swansea Campus)
  • University of Warwick
  • University of York

What will this means for students and employers?

Students are already given four months from the end of their course in which to find a job - this pilot will therefore only give such students an additional two months. During this period students can only take temporary roles and would need to wait until securing a Tier 2 visa before they can take on a permanent role. In addition, the pilot does not deal with the problem of students travelling once they graduate, as these students can sometimes be refused permission to re-enter under their Tier 4 visas once they have completed their course.

Any scheme making it easier for students to apply to join courses at highly compliant universities, and to have longer to look for work, is to be welcomed. The government should however do more to make the Tier 4 visa more flexible for graduated students, for example by guaranteeing that these students can travel and return to the UK even once their course has finished.