The University of East London’s (UEL) pro vice-chancellor has welcomed government proposals to allow international students to stay in the UK for two years after graduating and find work.
International students who have successfully completed a course in any subject at an institution with a track record in upholding immigration checks will be able to benefit from the measures.
They will apply to students who start courses in 2020/21 at undergraduate level or above.
Professor Charles Egbu said the move will have the support of the UK higher education sector.
He said: “The new proposals clearly indicate the importance attached to international students and the contribution they can make to the UK economy.
“This offers huge benefits. Over 150 nationalities are represented among University of East London students, and those who come from overseas deserve the opportunity to contribute their newly-gained knowledge and skills to the UK workforce.”
Professor Egbu added: “Amidst the uncertainty of Brexit, these new proposals also send a positive message to students from other countries who seek to earn a degree from one of the best higher education systems in the world.”
The move reverses a decision made in 2012 that required overseas students to leave four months after finishing their degree.
The change will apply to international students who start courses at undergraduate level or above from next year onwards. Under the proposals, there is no restriction on the kinds of jobs students would have to seek and no cap on numbers.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the change would “mean talented international students… can study in the UK and then gain valuable work experience as they go on to build successful careers.
She said: “It demonstrates our global outlook and will ensure that we continue to attract the best and brightest.”
Many UEL graduates go on to make a difference in their local, national and international communities.
Egbu said that international students bring a wealth and variety of cultural understanding, multi-lingual skills and abilities to their studies and work experience.
Professor of international relations, Vassilis K. Fouskas, who has British and Greek citizenship and has been living and working in the UK since 1992, said: “It is almost certain that a no deal Brexit would impact negatively on our institutions, both financially and morally. A Brexit deal that leaves the doors open to academic and student mobility would benefit both British and European academic institutions alike.”
The news was also welcomed by Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK.
He said: “Evidence shows that international students bring significant positive social outcomes to the UK as well as £26 billion in economic contributions, but for too long the lack of post-study work opportunities in the UK has put us at a competitive disadvantage in attracting those students.
“The introduction of a two-year post-study work visa is something Universities UK has long campaigned for and we strongly welcome this policy change, which will put us back where we belong as a first choice study destination.
“Not only will a wide range of employers now have access to talented graduates from around the world, these students hold lifelong links.”