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International Students Using Courses for Work Visas – UK

The UK Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has expressed concerns that international students might be using university courses as a way to obtain work visas, potentially undermining the UK’s higher education system.

In a letter to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), Cleverly raised issues about the integrity of the graduate visa entitlement, which allows international students to work for two or three years after graduating.

He instructed the MAC to investigate if the graduate route was attracting the “brightest and the best” to the UK, or if it was being used more for immigration purposes than for education.

Cleverly pointed out that some international students could pay relatively low fees for a one-year course, then access two years of work under the graduate route, followed by four years on the skilled worker route with reduced salary thresholds.

He asked the MAC to look into any evidence of abuse of the graduate route and its impact on the quality of the UK higher education system. This includes analyzing which universities are producing graduates who use this route.

However, university leaders are concerned that any cuts or restrictions to the graduate visa route could lead to a significant drop in international student recruitment and cause financial strain on universities reliant on international tuition fees.

Rachel Hewitt, chief executive of the MillionPlus group, criticized the government’s review, stating that it seemed aimed at undermining British higher education’s success.

Universities UK International’s director, Jamie Arrowsmith, emphasized the importance of post-study work opportunities for international students, highlighting their contribution to the UK economy.

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