Scottish Government urges student visa pilot rethink.
The Minister for International Development will chair his first meeting with a range of key stakeholders today to highlight his commitment to the introduction of a post study work visa and to call on the UK Government to include Scottish Universities in a student visa pilot programme.
Dr Alasdair Allan will meet representatives from the Institute of Directors, Scottish Universities International Group, NUS Scotland, Universities Scotland, UK Council for International Student Affairs, Scottish Chambers of Commerce and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.
A new Tier 4 visa pilot programme was recently announced by the UK Government, aimed at making it easier for overseas students to get a UK visa. It's to be trialled solely at four English universities and will be introduced without any discussion with Scottish ministers.
The pilot will simplify the visa application process for international students looking to study in the UK on a masters' course of 13 months or less and grant them an extended period of six months after the conclusion of their course in which to seek work.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Dr Allan said:
"The pilot still falls short of the post-study work route; however I urge the UK Immigration Minister to reconsider its scope as a starting point. The outcome of the EU referendum makes it even more important that the UK Government honours the recommendation in the Smith report to explore a potential post-study work route to ensure Scotland continues to attract and retain talent from around the world. We want gifted students to remain and contribute to Scottish society and the wider economy.
"I'm looking forward to meeting and collectively making positive strides forward with our key stakeholders. The UK Government must take note of the level of support for the return of a post-study work visa route in Scotland and get back round the table to find a suitable way forward."
Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland said:
"Today's meeting is an opportunity for the Scottish Government to highlight yet again, cross-party support for the introduction of a visa scheme, a policy that Universities Scotland has long campaigned for."
"We encourage further engagement with the Home Office to urge it to consider expanding its Tier 4 visa pilot programme to include Scottish universities, a scheme that although very welcome, is currently too narrowly focused. The escalation of the pilot to include the Scottish higher education sector would be of great benefit to our universities, students and staff, and to Scottish businesses and the economy."
Since the UK Government announced in March 2011 that they would close the post-study work visa route, the number of (non-EU) international students arriving in the UK has remained relatively static, with HESA stats published in January 2016 showing 174100 students in 2010/11 and 174305 in 2014/15.
The number of Indian students has reduced by 59% between 2010/11 and 2014/15, the number of Pakistani students has reduced by 38% between 2010/11 and 2014/15 and the number of Nigerian students has reduced by 26% between 2010/11 and 2014/15.