Efforts by the Scottish Government to reintroduce the post-study UK visa scheme north of the border have been rejected by the UK Parliament.
Since the scheme was removed in 2012 as part of efforts to cut the net UK migration figure, the number of overseas students saying to work in Britain post-graduation has plummeted by 80 per cent, the Scottish Affairs Committee said.
In a report, the committee called for changes in the system in Scotland because the loss of qualified young people was causing a skills gap in sectors such as finance and health. The University of Edinburgh also said that the loss of overseas graduates could lead to a brain drain in Scotland.
SNP MP Pete Wishart, who chairs the Scottish Affairs Committee, said: “Despite the almost universal support for improving post-study work schemes in Scotland, we are still to see these factors have any influence on the direction of policy.”
However, UK Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said there was already an “excellent post-study work offer” available under the four different UK visa schemes available to international students who want to remain in Britain to work after their studies have ended.
Responding to the committee’s report, he also appeared to crush Scotland's hopes of introducing its own separate post-work study system.
He said: “Applying different immigration rules to different parts of the UK would complicate the immigration system, harming its integrity, and cause difficulties for employers with a presence in more than one part of the UK.”
The response to the report also said that the reputation of the UK’s education system had been damaged by abuses to the previous system.
The Government has toughened up the UK visa system for overseas students as part of its efforts to bring down the net migration figures.