Image: Wikimedia Commons / Arno Mikkor

Former Universities Minister Jo Johnson calls for increase to post-study work visa

The UK should increase its post-study work visa to four years, former Universities Minister Jo Johnson has said.

He also wants the UK to double the number of Indian students the country attracts by 2024.

According to a recent report published by the Policy Institute at King’s College London and the Harvard Kennedy School, Mr Johnson said that the combination of Covid-19 and Brexit risks causing a 50-75% drop in the number of international students. 

He proposed extending the post-university work visa for international students from two to four years. He argued that this would “turbocharge” the attractiveness of a UK degree and help maintain international education as “one of the UK’s few globally competitive sectors”.

He has said the UK government’s current international education strategy, set out in May 2019, “lacked ambition” and “put us on a trajectory that would see our market share halve by 2030 and see the UK fall down the global rankings of destination countries”. 

“The government needs to realise that a two-year post-study work visa – while we obviously welcomed it a year ago– is sadly no longer going to be competitive in an environment where universities are chasing fewer international students than ever before,” Mr Johnson added.

The government needs to realise that a two-year post-study work visa – while we obviously welcomed it a year ago – is sadly no longer going to be competitive in an environment where universities are chasing fewer international students than ever before

– Jo Johnson

He has also said that the “continued and deeply unpopular” exclusion of Indian students from the streamlined visa application, which many other countries such as China benefit from, should be quickly revoked. 

When asked whether the UK was overly reliant on Chinese students, in a BBC radio 4 interview, he answered that in addition to more focus on India, “I recommend we increase significantly the number of students from other key countries such as Nigeria and Malaysia to rebalance the mix”.

Despite the huge risks UK universities are facing, he also framed this as a moment of opportunity. He said: “The UK is in a good position to take market share from the US in India and a further improvement in the post-study work offer would help the sector overcome new concerns about studying in the UK that have arisen in the wake of Covid-19.”

Mr Johnson, who is a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School and professorial fellow at King’s College London, hopes the Prime Minister will be receptive: “He’s a strong supporter of international students and always has been. He’s got the report. He’s received it.”

This year, nearly three-quarters of universities in the UK dropped in ranking, resulting in the country’s worst ever QS World University Ranking .

Mr Johnson said: “The competitive environment has changed because of coronavirus and how other countries are responding to the intensification of competition. And we can’t stand still.”

Related Posts

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *