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How the new Graduate visa could transform careers for international students


International postgraduate students on campus

New opportunities for international graduates

Thursday 1 July was a particularly significant date for thousands of international students thanks to a new graduate route announced by the UK government. It may not have received much fanfare in the mainstream media but the new 'Graduate visa' is hugely valuable for international graduates looking for work in the UK – and likewise for universities like Nottingham in recruiting international students.

The new visa means that international students who have successfully completed their degree are now able to remain in the UK and work at any sector without a salary threshold or skill level requirements. Students on an undergraduate or master’s degree will be able to benefit from two years’ work experience in the UK upon graduationand PhD graduates will be able to extend their stay for three years.

The Graduate visa is also important as it allows international students the flexibility to gain UK work experience before returning to their home countries or switching to a different visa. This will give employers and organisations access to talent with language skills and cultural knowledge, allowing them to increase the diversity of their workforce and fill gaps in high demand sectors. 

When announcing the new route in March this year, Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster said: “As we rebuild from the global pandemic we want the world’s brightest talent, who aspire to a career at the highest levels of business, science, the arts and technology to see our United Kingdom as the natural place to fulfil their aspirations.”

Helping Nottingham attract international students

What does this mean for the University of Nottingham? There are a number of countries for which the attraction of two years’ work experience in the UK post-study will be particularly significant.

Emma Tayou is responsible for promoting the university to prospective students in sub-Saharan Africa: “A clear route to gain post-study work experience is a big deal as recent graduates could not always secure employer sponsorship to work in the UK immediately after their studies. With the new route, the UK is now seen as more welcoming and makes it much more attractive as a study destination. We hope to see UK recruiters shortlisting more international students for graduate roles as a result.”

Emma Winter is our International Relations Manager in South Asia: “The Graduate visa has been the main draw for our South Asia students, particularly in India where this has been promoted widely through news outlets and organisations like the British Council. In India we are still seeing high recruitment numbers, for example applications this year are up 27% and last year were up 70%.”

Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) figures showed that there has been a notable increase of 38,580 Indian students over the last five years - 2015-16 to 2019-20 - at UK universities. According to the UK Home Office, there has been a 13% increase in the number of student visas granted to Indian nationals this year alone.

Emma continues: “At the moment, the UK is looking like an attractive option for students in South Asia. The country has been promoted positively following our vaccination success and recent handling of the pandemic. The key issue now is hotel quarantine and the cost attached to this; Russell Group Universities are currently lobbying the government for the option for red list country students to quarantine in university accommodation. 

“UoN is looking to support incoming international students by allowing them to start their course online. This is still to be confirmed in terms of the details, but we hope it will provide much needed support for our students.”

What it means for an international student 

Edwin Maliakkal (Architecture, 2020) knows first hand the immeasurable benefits of coming to the UK to study and then being able to secure work post-graduation: "Studying in the UK has allowed me to interact with people from all over the world and learn about different cultures. This experience has helped me with progressing within my chosen field (architecture). Securing a job in the UK has been extremely valuable. I’ve gained meaningful insights into how businesses work in the UK and understanding what makes a lovely workable environment. These are lessons I would like to take on board with me to help me set up my practice in the future." 

Posted on Tuesday 27th July 2021

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