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Calls for longer graduate visa options

Increasing time limits on the Graduate Visa could encourage more international students to come to the UK, according to new research.

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    Increased time limits on visas could attract more students

    More students would consider studying in the UK if they were allowed to stay longer after graduating, claims a new study.

    Research by education analysts QS revealed that two-thirds of international students would be more likely to attend a UK university if the two-year restriction on the Graduate visa was increased to at least three years.

    In July 2021, the government reintroduced the post-study visa that allows foreign students to work in the UK for 24 months following their graduation after pressure from educational institutions.

    Changes could stimulate income for many UK universities

    However, the QS research has called on the government to review this limit “to help stimulate further growth in the sector after the pandemic and position post-Brexit Britain as an equally welcoming destination for international students as its key competitors”.

    Many other countries do offer post-study visas that allow holders to remain for longer, including Australia, which recently overtook the UK as the second most popular destination for international students behind the US.

    Difficult to compare different countries’ restrictions 

    A spokesperson for the Home Office told The Guardian it was not possible to directly compare visa restrictions between countries.

    She added: “Those on the graduate route can stay in the UK and look for work at any skill level for a period of two years, or three years for those with a PhD, and switch into skilled work routes if they find a suitable job.”

    A recent report published by Universities UK International (UUKi) and the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) highlighted that international students contribute £26 billion to the UK economy each year.

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