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Global Talent is the gift that keeps on giving. International students bring forth with them a fresh perspective on outdated ideas. They challenge, innovate and push for a better future. Yet in recent years the UK has witnessed a loss of this talent. Since the removal of the post-study work visa, international students have been left feeling unwelcomed. The country that once received them with open arms to share and grow from its economy has closed doors to a sea of opportunities.

Since April 2012 when the government closed the Tier 1 visa route that previously enabled international graduates to seek employment in the UK without sponsorship for up to two years, there has been a sizeable decrease in a number of students securing visas after university. “The government’s current approach to post-study work and student migration policy is jeopardizing Britain’s position in the global race for talent,” said Richard Bacon, Conservative MP and a member of the committee. While alternative visa routes have been developed to counter the declining popularity of UK as a study-abroad destination, they aren’t as effective as the more sensible options taken by countries such as Canada, the U.S., and Australia.

Higher Education is becoming an increasingly valuable export that countries can offer. International students alone contribute over £10 billion to UK’s economy. Denying them the chance to utilize the skills and knowledge they’ve obtained while at university leads them to seek more favorable alternatives. Speaking at a conference in Edinburgh on 9 October, Scottish education secretary Michael Russell said it was “absolutely obvious” that immigration controls should be devolved. “The lifeblood of universities is the free exchange of scholars and students, and if that is impeded by the immigration system, which it is, then you are cutting off something exceptionally important,” he said.

The proposal outlined by Home Secretary Theresa May to have anyone entering the country on a student visa be required to leave the country and apply for a new visa from their home country in order to work in the UK has been heavily attacked from all sides. The Chancellor of the Exchequer apparently stepped in to quash the idea, fearing it would further damage UK universities and the economy.

Beyond the direct economic impact international students provide, they help create a global network of ambassadors with an emotional connection or feeling of trust towards the UK. We need to appeal to the UK government to bring back the post study work visa and restore UK’s place as a top global provider for international education.   

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