Universities “relieved” the Graduate Route for international students has been retained

The UK Government has today confirmed that the graduate route will remain in place for international students of all UK universities. The graduate route allows international students to remain in the UK upon graduation for two years (on average) after successful completing a relevant course in the UK.

The UK Government had been expected to make a decision on the future of the visa following the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) review of the route, which published its recommendations on 14 May. The MAC, which is an independent body, recommended the graduate route should be retained in its current form.

The announcement from the Department for Education came early today, on the same day that net migration data is published by the Office for National Statistics. ONS’s data shows that net migration numbers on study visas fell by 25%, or 80,000, between December 2023 and December 2024. It is important to note that the data to year-end December 2023, covers a period before the implementation of changes to government policy which ended the dependents’ visa for international postgraduate students; this came into force on 1 January 2024. Further falls in international student demand have been experienced since 1 January 2024 but will take longer to appear in national statistics.

Responding to the statement, Professor Iain Gillespie, Convener of Universities Scotland and Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Dundee, said:

“Universities are relieved to get confirmation that the Graduate route will remain in place, albeit with a new package of measures aimed at future-proofing against any potential abuse. This is welcome news for prospective international students, for universities and for the UK economy. Business leaders and the leaders of our cities and regions have been clear in their support for the graduate route as a vital component in the attraction of international talent and economic growth.

“The MAC was very clear there is no evidence of any significant abuse of the gradate route, however universities are committed to working with Government to retain high levels of confidence in our universities. As such, we will work constructively with Government on the package it has set out, including mandatory regulation of agents, new measures around franchise providers and language requirements.

“It is vitally important that the rest of the world hears that the graduate route remains in place so that we can arrest any further negative impact on recruitment for the autumn. Recruitment has taken a major hit this academic year, with the financial consequences already felt deeply in institutions.”



  • There has been strong support for the retention of the graduate route visa from business leaders and from the leaders of Scotland’s cities, including a joint statement from Universities Scotland and the Scottish Cities Alliance and an opinion piece from leading business figure, Will Whitehorn.
  • The UK Government’s announcement can be found here.
  • You can find the MAC’s report on the graduate route in full here. It concluded:  “We found no evidence of any significant abuse of the Graduate route.”
  • The MAC looked at HMRC data on the salaries of international students working on the graduate route visa and found that within a year, the average salary was broadly equivalent to that of domestic graduates.


Further information:

Susannah Lane

M: 07715992908