This is good news for Ghanaians who wish to study in the United Kingdom.
International students will be allowed to stay in the UK for two years after graduation to find a job, under new proposals announced by the Home Office.
The move reverses a decision made in 2012 by then-Home Secretary Theresa May that forced overseas students to leave four months after finishing a degree.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the change would see students “unlock their potential” and begin careers in the UK.
But campaign group Migration Watch called it a “retrograde” step.
The change will apply to international students in the UK – there were around 450,000 last year – who start courses at undergraduate level or above from next year onwards.
They must be studying at an institution with a track record in upholding immigration checks.
Under the proposals, there is no restriction on the kinds of jobs students would have to seek and no cap on numbers.
“If one needed evidence of a new approach to immigration within government, today’s announcement allowing all foreign students to stay for two years after graduation is just that,” the BBC’s home editor Mark Easton said.
“Where Theresa May introduced what she called a hostile environment around migration rules, with an ambition to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands, Boris Johnson has promised to scrap that target and encourage the brightest and best to come and live and work in global Britain.”
Student Shreya Swamy, from India, says the proposal is “a great step forward” but it is “a sad day” for her as it has come too late to help students already in the UK.
She has just finished studying for a master’s degree at the University for the Creative Arts, in Kent and Surrey, and says she has “struggled so much” with the current rule giving her up to four months to look for work.
Jobs for international graduates “are close to nil”, she says, blaming their lack of experience.
“I have been through hell and back trying to figure out my career plan these past few months because it seems practically impossible to have one in the UK,” she says.
“I feel really helpless, and almost regret coming here to study because I’m going to end up going back home with a very expensive piece of paper.”
Just over 450,000 international students are currently studying in UK universities.
Of these, almost two-thirds are from outside the EU, so will require a student visa to be in the country.
Between about 170,000 and 185,000 of these students graduate each year and, under current rules, they have four months to transfer to another visa – such as a work visa – or decide to continue studying.
In 2018, 6,300 individuals moved from student visas to skilled work visas, meaning they have officially been offered a job paying at least £20,800 in the first year.
A further 450 were granted “high-value migrant” visas, which are normally reserved for those with particular expertise in a field or those who have a set sum of money to invest in the country.
We also know that almost 40,000 student visas are extended each year, implying that a large number of graduates are continuing studies in the UK.
That still leaves more than 100,000 students not formally extending their visas – and we don’t have reliable figures for how many of them leave the UK.
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