A Scottish Parliament committee has given its backing for international post-study work visas to be reintroduced North of the border.
The visas, which allowed non-EU overseas students to remain in the UK to work for two years after completing their studies, were abolished by the Government in Westminster in 2012.
The Holyrood Devolution Committee concluded the removal of the UK visas was “seriously restricting” Scottish colleges and universities trying to recruit overseas students. Its report found that international student recruitment in Scotland rose by just 1-2 per cent in 2015, while colleges in Canada, the US and Australia had seen double-digit growth.
In addition, it found the Scottish economy had lost more than £250 million since 2012 as a result of the visa being abolished.
All parties in the Scottish Parliament support the reintroduction of the post-study visa and the committee is now calling on UK Immigration Minister James Brokenshire to come to Edinburgh to discuss what else needs to be done to reintroduce the system in Scotland.
Committee Bruce Crawford MSP told The Scotsman: “A clear consensus has emerged from across the political parties in Scotland and from colleges, universities and business organisations, that the UK Government visa scheme is not delivering for Scotland.
“The committee considers there is robust evidence that identifies the decision to remove the post-study work visa scheme as a major factor in the Scottish education sector falling behind competitor countries in attracting international students. Without post-study work opportunities our higher and further education institutions are being disadvantaged.”
He said that Scottish businesses were also being “deprived of world-class talent”, which was an essential component for the country to continue growing its economy.
The UK Government removed the post-study scheme as part of its efforts to reduce the net migration figures.