Education – in particular higher education such as University undergraduate degree level and beyond – is one of the UK’s great success stories. Every single year, thousands of overseas students migrate to the UK to learn and further their academic abilities. Many of these students are then picked up by UK companies as part of their routine talent acquisition activities. Through their subsequent employment they benefit and help to grow our economy. For some reason, the current government is intent on introducing measures to make the whole process much harder. A move which seems to lack sense when taking into account the current skills shortage the UK is experiencing.
Under the rules currently in place, the majority of students can apply for a work visa whilst living in the UK. New proposals, initially announced by the secretary of state for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid, and the Home Secretary, Theresa May, will add another layer of bureaucracy by forcing graduates – no matter how talented – to leave the UK once their course of study has finished and apply for a working visa from their home country.
Javid was launching a set of proposals with the aim of assisting the UK with its lagging levels of productivity but his more recent plans to “break the link” between overseas students and post-graduation employment have been met by harsh criticism from many UK businesses. His plans make very little economic sense. The UK education system should be utilised as a tool to import the globe’s best minds and keep them here so that we as a country benefit. The UK has already made it financially expensive for these foreign students to enter and stay, but to now make it even harder for them to find post-study jobs will give very little incentive to students to come here from now on.
Since the collapse of 2008, the UK has done a brilliant job of getting its economy back on track. If the problem is to be fixed for good, the UK’s borders must remain open and talent acquisition activities must not be hampered.