Universities Scotland submitted written evidence to the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee as it considers post-study work visas as an issue related to the Smith Commission on Thursday 28 January.
Our written evidence makes it clear that Scotland’s higher education institutions want to see a change to the UK’s immigration policy for international students. This could happen at a UK level, for the benefit of all UK HEIs, or at a Scotland level in a follow-through onthe recommendation in the Smith Commission’s final report.
We argue that:
- There is a solid evidence base to support the social and cultural benefits Scotland would gain if a post study work visa were to be reintroduced.
- There is a very broad consensus of support to see this happen in Scotland. This includes the university and college sectors, the business community and all parties represented in the Scottish Parliament.
- Tier 2 (as the policy stands of January 2016) is a restrictive and anti-competitive route for international graduates and bureaucratic and off-putting for employers. Student numbers, from what were once key markets for Scotland, have fallen significantly, with double-digit decreases, since Tier 2 was introduced. New Zealand, Canada, Australia and America grow their international student numbers at the expense of Scotland, where our numbers stagnate at best.
- The Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendations, announced this January, are taking the UK further in the wrong direction. Increasing minimum salary thresholds will make Tier 2 even more restrictive, effectively rendering a significant proportion of international graduates ineligible to apply.
- The global demand for overseas study continues. Scotland’s universities have all of the assets needed to do well in this market with the exception of a competitive visa policy.