When choosing to study at an A-Level college in London, international students have many things to take into consideration. For those wishing to take their studies in the UK further, a different set of challenges may arise.
International students bring an estimated net of £7 billion to the British economy each year, but those from non-EU countries could find themselves being asked to leave the UK when they graduate from university if proposed rules set by Home Secretary Theresa May are enforced. Current rules allow most students to apply for a work visa while still living in the UK, but under new legislation they may be forced to apply from their home countries once they finish university. Students were previously allowed just two months to find employment after graduation, resulting in less than 10% deciding to stay. Not only would this pile pressure onto students but the Home Office has also proposed that if A-Level colleges and universities fail to ensure the departure of their foreign students, they could potentially lose their right to sponsor students from overseas altogether.
The plan to ‘ship out’ international graduates is said to be part of a wider initiative to make the UK’s immigration system more efficient, but could be detrimental to the British economy at the same time. The chance to study in the UK is a privilege for many students as our universities are considered to be among the best in the world. However, in addition to providing them with the best education that their money can buy, the UK should also make them feel welcome. The threat of being forced to leave as soon as they earn their degree could see a drop in the number of overseas students in the UK as they explore other options.
The proposed plans are shortsighted as we could potentially be losing professionals that could be of great value to our economy. Some of the world’s brightest minds come to the UK to study, and keeping them here is beneficial to strengthening the UK’s position in industries such as engineering and the sciences. It is estimated that nearly 200,000 international students are researching technology in British universities. So what happens when they graduate? While they are entitled to apply for jobs in the UK from their home countries, they may not be motivated to do this. They may choose to use their acquired skills and knowledge to further these industries at home. And who could blame them?