• Saturday, June 15, 2024

UK News

UK to conduct annual English tests for migrant graduates

Nearly 30 university vice-chancellors and the National Indian Students and Alumni Association (NISAU) UK sent letters to 10 Downing Street. (Representative image: iStock)

By: Vibhuti Pathak

The UK government is proposing annual English tests for migrant graduates on the Graduate Route visa. Pending Cabinet approval, this policy aims to tighten the criteria for the visa, which currently allows international students to work in the UK for two years after graduation.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is also considering measures to prevent British universities from enrolling foreign students in “low-quality” postgraduate courses. This is part of broader immigration control efforts, with concerns that such courses are being used as a backdoor entry into the UK. Despite a decrease in net immigration from its peak, numbers remain significantly higher than those at the 2019 election.

The Home Office plans to address the issue of recruitment agents placing foreign students in low-paying jobs below the minimum wage, as per the Daily Mail. A government source informed The Sun that the revised scheme aims to attract only the “best and brightest” to the UK.

Potential rule changes could face opposition from senior Cabinet ministers and universities, which rely heavily on the higher fees paid by international students. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt noted that current changes to immigration rules are already reducing immigration, implying that further restrictions on student numbers may be unnecessary.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan opposes banning foreign students from lower-quality postgraduate courses, stating, “This can’t all be about PPEs from Oxford.” The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended continuing the Graduate Route visa scheme, finding no abuse of the post-study work offer. Indians, who accounted for 42 per cent of visas from 2021 to 2023, would be most affected by any restrictions.

Universities and Indian student groups have urged Sunak to maintain the post-study visa offer. Nearly 30 university vice-chancellors and the National Indian Students and Alumni Association (NISAU) UK highlighted the economic benefits and the role of international students in enhancing the UK’s global educational competitiveness. “The modelling by consultancy London Economics shows that a single cohort has a net economic benefit of GBP 37 billion to the UK economy,” read the NISAU UK letter to Sunak.

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