UK: Government Criticised Over Rejection of Scottish Post-Study Work Visa Reintroduction

The UK Government”s decision to reject the reintroduction of a post-study work visa scheme in Scotland has faced increasing criticism from Scottish ministers, businesses and education authorities. 

The post-study work visa route allows international students from outside the European Union to stay in Scotland and work once they have graduated. Although this scheme has obtained cross-party support from Scottish MPs and business and education experts, the UK Government has decided against allowing its return.

Universities Scotland fears that the country is missing out on the recruitment of highly skilled international workers from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada due to the UK having one of the “least competitive” post-study work visa policies in the world.

They argue that international students alone are responsible for over £800 million of income each year; however, this is likely to be jeopardised by a lack of post-study options. There are also fears that the UK”s current student immigration policy is ultimately damaging to Scotland”s industry, as there are shortages in a lot of highly-skilled roles which are not being met by UK or EU nationals.

Ahead of his meeting last month with UK Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill, Dr Alasdair Allan, Holyrood”s International Development and Europe Minister stated: “It is essential that we can enable businesses to attract and access the skills and talent needed to boost Scotland”s long-term competitiveness. We have pressed the UK Government for a number of months to meet with us and discuss this issue further and I look forward to hearing what Mr Goodwill has to say to justify this extremely disappointing and mystifying decision.”

Mr Allan was also supported by Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC), who added: “The UK Government”s decision to reject calls for a new Post Study Work visa for Scotland is bad for business and is doing Scotland a major disservice.”

Following the meeting between Dr Allan and Mr Goodwill, further developments could be announced in the coming months.

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