UK Government Initiates Review of Graduate Route Visa

UK Government Initiates Review of Graduate Route Visa

The UK Home Office has tasked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent advisory body on immigration, with reviewing the Graduate Route visa. This visa allows international students to gain work experience after completing their university studies in the UK.

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Introduced two years ago, the Graduate Route visa has seen significant uptake, with 42 percent of the 176,000 students granted the visa being Indian nationals. This surge in Indian student numbers has been credited with boosting the UK’s higher education sector, providing much-needed financial support to universities facing financial strains due to the higher fees paid by international students.

However, concerns have arisen over the potential impact of the MAC review. There are fears that the review may reverse progress made in recent months and adversely affect the mental well-being of students, particularly as it proposes banning dependents from accompanying students from the New Year.

Amit Tiwari, National President of the Indian National Students’ Association (INSA) UK, emphasized the significant economic contribution of Indian students to the UK, amounting to approximately £25 billion annually. INSA intends to raise concerns with UK authorities to ensure fairness for Indian students.

The MAC’s review aims to assess whether the Graduate Route visa benefits the UK economy. In its 2023 annual report, the MAC expressed skepticism about the visa’s efficacy in attracting talented students for high-skilled graduate jobs. There are concerns that a significant portion of visa holders may end up in low-wage employment.

These developments have prompted apprehension among organizations like the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) UK, and its supporters, including Lord Karan Bilimoria. Lord Bilimoria has long advocated for post-study work opportunities for international students.

Sanam Arora, Chairperson of NISAU UK, stressed the importance of recognizing international students as more than just immigration statistics. She urged MAC to involve the higher education sector in shaping the review’s scope and to consider how the Graduate Route visa is marketed in India and other countries.

In parallel, applications for the 2024 India UK Achievers Honours, which recognize the contributions of overseas Indian students to the UK, have opened.

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