Have your say on post study work schemes for international studentsWatch this thread
They would like to hear your thoughts and experiences of post study work schemes. This is your chance to get involved and influence the work of Parliament and hold the Government to account.
About the Inquiry
Prior to 2012, international students were able to apply for a dedicated post study work visa, which allowed them to remain and work in the UK after completing their studies.
The committee is examining what impact the closure of this scheme has had on industry and the competitiveness of higher education institutions (HEI).
They are also looking at what the Scottish and UK governments have done to investigate the feasibility of a scheme allowing international students to remain in Scotland and contribute to the economy.
How are post study work schemes affecting the ability of Scottish employers to find skilled staff?
Are post study work schemes raising the skill levels of Scotland’s own young people and attracting skilled workers from the rest of the United Kingdom?
How effective are current Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and 2 (General) visas for enabling international students to remain in Scotland, after completing their studies, to contribute to the Scottish economy?
What are the limitations of current arrangements?
To what extent is the competitiveness of Scottish universities driven by factors such as the availability of post study work schemes, as compared to the quality of education?
How should any post study work scheme for international students in Scotland be structured?
Committee chair, Pete Wishart, commented:
"There are many thousands of students who come here to study every year, attracted by the Scottish culture and the quality of our educational institutions. However, universities and colleges are facing growing competition in the global education sector. We want to see if the lack of a dedicated programme that allows overseas students to stay here for a period of time after graduating is reducing the attractiveness of studying here.
Additionally, we are going look at the skills the Scottish economy requires and whether a post study work scheme can help to bridge any skills gap that exists. We have a highly diverse economy, underpinned by specialist sectors such as oil and gas, engineering and health, where a quarter of all vacancies are hard-to-fill because of a shortage in available skills.
This is the first inquiry we have launched following our Work of the Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry and is based on feedback from Scottish Universities, employers and civic Scotland. We expect to hear evidence from government ministers, and leaders in business and education, but we also want to hear from groups or individuals affected by this policy at all levels. If you have come to Scotland to complete your higher education, or have begun your career here after graduating, then get in touch and tell us what you think."
How to get involved
You can send written submissions via the form available on our post study work schemes inquiry page.
You can also post comments in this forum thread which will be shared with the Committee.
The deadline for written submissions is Wednesday 16 December.
In their report the Committee have found that current rules for students studying here to remain in Scotland are too restrictive and are preventing businesses from finding skilled workers.
Scotland faces different demographic challenges to the rest of the UK, with a much lower birth rate and significant skills gaps in the workforce. Sectors, such as health, energy and finance face particular problems in recruiting skilled graduate workers.
Read the report: Post-study work schemes
The Committee found that the closure of the Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) visa in 2012, has harmed Scotland by making Scotland less competitive in the global education market, with other nations able to offer prospective students greater employment opportunities after graduation.
Closing this visa has also prevented Scotland from making use of a pool of skilled workers, educated in Scotland, who could help mitigate Scotland’s demographic challenges. Since the Post-Study Work visa was closed in 2012 the number of non-EU students remaining in the UK after graduating has fallen by 80%.
The Committee heard that the time non-EU students have to find a job after graduation is too short and minimum salary thresholds too high to make the current visa arrangements suitable for Scotland. Businesses are also being put off by the costly and complex sponsorship requirements that are currently in place.
Assurances given by the UK government that the current visa system works for Scotland have not been backed up by the evidence the Committee has received. Representatives from academia, business, industry, trade unions and government in Scotland highlighted the problems facing their sectors, caused by restrictive visa regulations. The Committee has called for the UK and Scottish governments to explore these issues together, as set out in the Smith Commission report.
The Committee has also said the UK Government should commission the Migration Advisory Commission to review the current route for skilled non-EU students to stay in the UK to work for a set period of time.
Options that should be investigated include:
- Extending the length of student visa to allow a longer period after graduation for students to find work
- Reforms to sponsorship rules to make it easier for businesses to employee non-EU graduates
- Regional salary thresholds
Committee chair Pete Wishart said:
"Students from outside the EU come to Scotland to receive a world-class education and enjoy our unique cultural opportunities. We are glad to have them here and they help create a global environment at our universities which benefits everyone attending them.
We currently have a situation where people come to Scotland from around the world to spend three or four years here being educated and becoming settled in our society. Then we raise unnecessary barriers to allowing these talented individuals stay and contribute to our economy.
The Scottish government, education sector and business sectors have all indicated that they want to see changes to this situation. There has been an almost universal call for reform and the UK government must give assurance that it will take this into account and give proper consideration to reforms."