A new UK visa scheme for some overseas students, which would allow them to remain in Britain for six months after finishing their studies, is being trialled.
The Home Office has launched a Tier 4 Visa Pilot for one-year Masters degree students studying at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and Imperial College London. It will be open to overseas students who begin their studies in 2016/17 and 2017/18 and only those on courses of up to 13 months will be able to apply for the new visa.
It comes after concerns that fewer international students were choosing to study in the UK because of restrictions on staying in Britain to work after completing their degrees.
Imperial College London’s president, Prof Alice Gast, said: “This pilot scheme is an encouraging step forward. The ability to stay on for six months will bring benefits to the students and to the country as our talented graduates will be able to pursue their entrepreneurial ideas, further study or add to the UK’s talent pool.”
After the two-year pilot run, the Government will assess the success of the project and decide whether to make it permanent.
Masters students at other universities cannot take advantage of the pilot and undergraduate and PhD students are not eligible to use it.
It’s hoped that the programme will attract more gifted overseas students to choose the UK for further study, after numbers began to fall.
Since the post-study work visa was abolished in 2012 as part of efforts to cut the UK’s net migration figures, there has been a significant dip in the number of international students coming to Britain. It’s believed many have headed to countries such as the US and Australia, which have been perceived as being more welcoming.