Foreign students will be required to leave the United Kingdom upon graduation if a plan backed by home secretary Theresa May is passed.
The plan, backed by the Conservative party, would require anyone with a student visa to leave the country as soon as they graduate, and to re-apply for a working visa if they wish to take up graduate jobs.
Under the current law, foreign students can stay in the country for four months at the end of their course. If the students are able to secure a graduate job during this period, they are permitted to switch from a student visa to a working visa.
Ms May believes that this plan is needed to reduce numbers of illegal migrant workers.
Natradee Sripimai, a first-year Economics, Politics, and International Studies student, disagreed: “The truth is that international students are thoroughly screened by universities and, if they can afford to pay the astronomical tuition fees, they probably do not strive to emigrate here permanently as they are pretty much well-off.”
Ms Sripimai added that she herself would ideally like to gain only one or two years work experience in the country after graduation before returning back her home country of Thailand as there are equally great opportunities waiting for her back at home.
Kevin Yoon, a first-year International Business undergraduate, commented that if a good job opportunity arises he would obviously want to be able to remain in the UK but, depending on what opportunities come his way, he is equally open to moving to a third country or even back home.
First-year undergraduate of Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Sonali Gidwani lamented the new policy: “It’s a shame, because international students can help British firms connect overseas and may even help the local economy by filling in shortages in the labour market.”
“If the UK continues to treat foreign students this way, it will lose its reputation as an educational hub”.
Newly-appointed vice chancellor of the University of Birmingham Lord Bilimoria warned that Britain would pay a high price if the proposed plan is passed, amid falling numbers of applications from international students to UK universities for the first time in years.
The Labour party acknowledged that one of the drawbacks of the policy would be fewer international students choosing to come to the UK and as a result Britain would lose “billions of investment”.
The University of Warwick admitted that its 5,000-plus international students bring in fees totalling nearly £90m.
“The government may say Britain is open for business but they’re sending out a message that’s not so welcoming,” said a Warwick representative, reported by the BBC.