The UK government has rejected calls to reintroduce the post-study work visa which allowed graduates to remain in the UK and work for two years after completing their studies.
In 2012, the UK government decided to abolish the visa in an attempt to reduce net migration from “the hundreds of thousands down to the tens of thousands,” and “make sure all but the very best return home after study.”
The Scottish government has been in complete opposition to the abolition of the visa and an inquiry conducted earlier this year by the Scottish Affairs Committee concluded that closing the post- study work visa had “made Scotland a less attractive destination to study.”
The report also found that the number of non-EU students remaining in the UK dropped by 80 per cent after the visa was abolished.
Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said, “At a time when the Scottish economy is facing serious challenges in the shape of a low growth rate and high levels of skills shortages, all in the face of a redefinition of our relationship with the European Union, it simply beggars belief that the UK government is closing the door on an opportunity for talented international people to contribute to our economy.”
She added that Scotland “has fallen behind other nations in terms of the growth of international students and their ability to gain valuable work opportunities.”
A spokesperson for the University told The Saint hat they supported the reintroduction of the visa.
“As Scotland’s most international university it is vital that we are able to attract the best students from around the globe,” they said.
The spokesperson also went on to say, “We have argued strenuously against making it more difficult for [international students] to work in the UK after graduation and will continue to make that case.
“We will continue to use our own voice as well as working with Universities Scotland to convince the Scottish and UK governments of the value of attracting the brightest talent from across the world to St Andrews.”
However, the UK government defended the decision not to reintroduce the visa by reiterating its commitment to reducing overall immigration.
In a statement, a government spokesperson said, “It had become very apparent that the old student visa regime was failing to control student immigration adequately, with real evidence of poor quality colleges and abuse of the student route.”
The spokesperson also stated that they “have no plans to re-introduce a post-study work scheme that does not lead to skilled work.”