December 2018 White Paper on Immigration – Our response

The Government has published its immigration White Paper outlining its proposals for immigration policy, including policy specific to international students, for after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. We believe some of the proposals are encouraging, but that overall they do not go far enough for UK business schools looking to attract world-class international students.

In the paper the Government has explicitly recognised both the financial and cultural value that international students bring to the UK. This is welcome and encouraging, and we hope to see this attitude persist and reflected in policy going forwards.

However, we regret that the Government has not taken measures to simplify the burdensome Visa process for international students, which will now apply to all students coming to the UK. The current visa regime inevitably acts as a deterrent to some students when added to all other costs and barriers of coming to the UK to study. The regime is a burden to both the students and the universities that have to process them, at a time when international competition is high and funding for many universities is tight.

We welcome the proposals to improve the post-study offer for graduate international students who wish to remain in the UK and contribute, in light of the recent Migration Advisory Committee report (you can read our evidence submitted to the Committee here). This new offer, six months of post-study leave to find full-time employment for bachelors and masters graduates, and one year for doctorate graduates, is more generous than at present, and indeed the most generous the system will have been since 2012 when the current regime was introduced. However, it is still less attractive than the visas available from our major competitors in the US, Canada, Australia, France, and Germany, who typically offer graduates 12 to 18 months to find employment. UK business schools teach 121,675 international students, and it is vital that we continue to offer competitive terms to the best of international talent to encourage them to build business connections in the UK and to work here and contribute to the economy in the long term.